Will pulled his hands from her grasp, glancing at the genie’s bands around each wrist. There was a desperation in her voice that cut him to the core. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
"Alice, Cyrus is free. You’ve done what you came here to do. Leave while you still can." She crossed her arms and glared at him. "Or better yet, let me wish you two gone."
They’d found his bottle, and Alice had been the one to summon him. He was relieved. It was far too early to trust Anastasia and even he could see the foolishness of burdening Cyrus when he was so recently free. So here she was, the three wishes in her hand, held tightly enough to slice her skin.
She was the last one to talk to him. Anastasia was sulking under a tree. Cyrus had looked troubled, but agreed to respect his decision.
She’d come storming in, eyes bright with anger and determination. He thought she looked beautiful, and wondered how he was supposed to resist her.
"I can’t, Will, how can you ask me to?" She pressed the back of her hand to her mouth, taking a few deep breaths through her nose to hold her tears at bay. He wanted to rage at her to leave, he wanted to hold her until her sadness passed, he wanted her here and gone and she made everything worse and better. "You came here because I made you. You stayed to help me. And you think I will just leave you like this? Trapped in place of Cyrus?"
He was silent, watching her struggle. Any words he found now would lead them down a path she had never wanted to take. He would not add his feelings to the weight she carried.
"We’ll find another way," she promised. "Somehow. We’ll put Jafar in the damn bottle instead."
She said it thoughtlessly, a throwaway remark to make a general point. But he couldn’t help the hope that kindled in his eyes. And when she raised her own face to his, he saw the same inspiration there.
"Bloody hell, Alice," he whispered raggedly. "I think you might actually have a plan."
She laughed, tears sparkling in her eyes, and threw her arms around him.
"Silly Will," she said. "I always have a plan. Mostly it’s ‘go and fix the problem. bring Will along.’ But I’m trying to branch out."
He hugged her back, the feel of her like a warm spring breeze after a stretch of bitter cold. Then she pulled away, grabbing one of his hands and tugging him toward the others.
"If Jafar wants genies so badly, let’s see how he likes becoming one," she said loudly, including Cyrus and Anastasia in the conversation. Will followed obediently, and didn’t miss the way both of them looked first at their linked hands, then at Alice’s excited face.
Oh god, was he in trouble.