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I'll help you whatever you like it or not

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If someone had told Clary five months ago that she would be sitting in the headquarters of a criminal gang flirting and laughing with a member of said organization she would have called them crazy. But here she was, still sweaty from a personal defense training session, watching Jace as he threw his head back in laughter. No, she hadn't predicted that trying to get in contact with his biological father would put her in the way of the Lightwoods, con artists extraordinaire, nor that she'd end up helping them take his father down after he proved himself to be an enormous douchebag, but she didn't regret it. Especially not when Jace was looking at her like that.

"We have a job." Alec's voice made both of them jump. Damn thieves, always so freaking sneaky.

"I thought you said we had to lie down for a while," Jace told him reclining his back lazily against the wall and looking up to his brother. "Let the hype from the last one die out before we started something new."

"And what about me and Simon?" Clary asked confused. "We haven't finished training yet."

"Well, you are going to have to learn by practicing," Alec snapped at her. "We have to take this job," he said forcefully.

Jace stood up and approached his brother placing a comforting hand in the taller man's arm. "Why? Has something happened? What's so important about it?" he asked softly though Clary could clearly see that he was already on board.

"It's about Magnus," Alec explained, looking dead serious into Jace's eyes which widened in surprise.

"He's resurfaced?" he asked with the beginning of a smile he was clearly trying to repress.

"He did. Three month ago," nodded the oldest Lightwood. "He's been conning some corrupt judges but word is that the FBI has an informant among them and is trying to get their hands on him. Jace, I can't let that happen." he breathed deeply "I won't let that happen." Alec looked quite desperate and Jace just nodded reassuringly.

"Go get Izzy, we'll meet you in the living room in five minutes," he promised clapping his brother back.

"And get Simon, too, I think he is in the kitchen attempting to learn how to pick locks," Clary told him and, to his astonishment, Alec just nodded and left the room. "Wow, not even a snappy comment about Simon being hopeless or about how I can do that by myself? Are you sure he is not sick?"

"Sick with worry, probably," Jace replied sounding extremely serious, and  Clary wondered if she was actually on an alternative universe.

"Who is this Magnus?" she asked while Jace stacked all the equipment they had been using during the training back into the closet.

"He is a thief too, a con artist really because he does way more grifting than actually stealing," he corrected himself. "One of the best. He's known as the High Warlock because he never leaves any clue behind, well, besides glitter but that's like his signature, always magically disappearing with what he wants. The guy can steal basically anything." It was clear that Jace admired the guy which only made Clary more curious. "He is also Alec's ex."

"Well, Alec doesn't exactly seem to be over him," Clary joked but she regretted it instantly when Jace face darkened. "I'm guessing there's a story there?" she prompted.

"Yeah, and it's not one with a happy ending." Jace looked like someone had kicked his puppy and Clary had to contain the urge to hug him. "Let's go, I don't think Alec is in the mood for waiting." He extended his hand to help Clary get up. She took it with a smile and didn't let go, using her grip instead to haul Jace to the living room behind her.

"At last," Isabelle smiled at them when they entered the room. "Alec just told me that we're taking another job. He seemed really shaken, any idea why?"

"Magnus is in trouble," Jace answered and guilt flashed through Izzy's face. "And Alec's just casted himself as the dashing knight in black clothing." Her brother winked causing her to giggle. Alec chose that moment to enter the room followed by a very confused Simon.

"Good, everyone is here, let's start." Alec took the remote and the photo of a gorgeous Asian man appeared in the screen behind them. It wasn't like the photos the Lightwoods usually had of their marks, all taken from far away and completely impersonal. In this one, the guy was cuddling a cat and smiling at the camera, all barriers down. "Magnus Bane," Alec said with a wistful tone and Clary wondered if he had been the one to take that photo. "He’s an old friend of ours. We owe him, a lot," he said glaring at Simon and Clary like he was daring them to question him. "He resurfaced three month ago after being inactive for half a year." he proceeded and Clary saw Izzy glancing away from the screen looking uncomfortable. "Apparently he has decided to relieve judges Carrington,  Smythe and Locke from several millions they've made by accepting bribes to put innocent people in jail and let criminals go free." There was a proud smile in his face and the screen changed to the photography of three old white men enjoying drinks and cigars together.

"Are they drinking Scotch? Please tell me they are drinking Scotch" asked Simon excited, leaning forward to see better. Clary giggled and Alec just rolled his eyes.

"Can you two focus?" he asked, throwing daggers with his eyes at the both of them. "This isn't a joke."

"You said the FBI is involved?" asked Jace trying to get the conversation back on track.

"Yeah, Lydia's contact in the bureau told her they were closing in on Magnus," the dark haired man explained. "Apparently one of those assholes has a deal with the feds, immunity if he gets them enough big names."

"So what's Magnus plan then?" asked Isabelle. "And how do we factor in it?"

"He is going by the name of Michael Bing, a member of the board of the very selected Swiss bank, one that doesn't ask too many questions of course," he explained. "His bank, the MFB, even has a very professional looking website, obviously Ragnor's work," he chuckled. "Anyway, at this moment the judges are stalling, trying to see if Magnus is going to offer them a better deal which is good because the moment they sign the contract the FBI will have grounds to arrest Magnus for fraud," he ended with a frown. "We won't allow that to happen."

"Of course not," Isabelle said. "But it's going to be hard, Magnus won't want us anywhere near this." Alec actually looked hurt at that thought.

"He is not going to have a choice," Jace stepped in, eyes fixed on Alec. "He helped us so we're going to help him. Whatever he believes us or not does not factor in."

"Glad to hear you say that." Alec smiled briefly towards his brother. "Because you’ll be playing Magnus rival." A photo of Jace looking quite dashing in a suit appeared in the screen making Clary sigh silently, or not so silently if the smug smile Jace threw her way was to be trusted. "Meet John Logan, board member of the Winsor bank based in the Caimans."

"He's going to think we are trying to steal his job," Jace warned him, frowning a bit.

"Which is exactly what his character should think. This way he is won't mess up his cover because of us. I can't stress this enough, there is a fed watching, any mistake could send him to prison. Or it could cost him the con because those three are not exactly stupid," Alec pointed out. "Your job is to discover who is the informant and cut him out of the deal before he can get any evidence against Magnus."

"Will I have to wear a suit?" whimpered pathetically his brother.

"Absolutely. And it's going to have to be a fancy one. And you're going to need a fancy tie too. Maybe new shirts, the ones you have aren't really high quality..." Izzy's eyes had a maniacal brightness that made Simon scoot over the couch to get away from her. "We're going shopping!" she proclaimed clapping her hands.

"The things I do for you." Jace threw a pout in Alec's direction. "God, why do I have to play the stuffy rich asshole all the time?"

"Because you were born for that role," Simon teased him. "Or well, you were born in that role"

"And what role were you born in?" Jace bantered. "Hopeless, clumsy nerd that fails to be funny?"

"I'm hilarious," protested the guy. "And I would ace any role you wanted me to play."

"Good, because you will be playing a vital one," Alec deadpanned. Jace snorted and Simon flailed but he actually seemed to be serious. "These judges have chosen the hotel DuMort as their meeting place. We need eyes there and Santiago may actually murder us if he sees us less than fifty feet from Magnus. If he refuses to let Jace in he'll risk blowing Magnus cover but I assure you he'll be watching him like a hawk 24/7 as long as he's there. We need someone that can move freely and listen what they say when we aren't there."

"And that someone has to be me?" Simon looked at Alec pleadingly, still hoping this was all a joke and Clary squeezed his arm reassuringly.

"It can't be any of us, Raphael knows us all," Alec shrugged. "And apparently he is looking to hire an accountable. You classify, Clary doesn't."

"Oh come on, you know I hate accounting," he pouted but he already looked resigned and even a bit excited.

"Do I look like I care? You won't even have to change your name. No one knows that you run with us now." Simon looked quite pleased at Alec including him in their group and Clary smiled to herself knowing his mind was already made.

"I suppose I can go to the interview but I don't guarantee that they'll hire me," he warned smiling self-deprecatingly.

"Of course they will," Clary jumped in his defense. "I can help you prepare for it."

"And so can I," offered Izzy. "I know Raphael quiet well so you'll have advantage over every other contestant."

"So that's all I've got for now. I have to go meet Lydia, see if she can get me more Intel on the FBI or the judges," Alec told them, already grabbing his jacket. "Work on your characters, do recon on the marks and keep training the newbies," he ordered his siblings. "And if you've really got to gossip please have it done before I come back," he added when he was already opening the door to leave.

"Will do," promised Jace while Izzy just nodded.

Alec left and the other reminded silent for a moment. The two remaining Lightwoods where having one of those silent conversation which Clary guessed was about how their brother was holding up. She exchanged a look with her best friend who looked completely confused. Unsurprisingly Simon was the one who spoke first.

"So about that gossip..." he prompted looking at Izzy. "Because that was intense even for Alec."

"Alec used to date that guy," explained Clary seeing the siblings weren't going to start the conversation. Simon's eyes widened comically.

"Alec's gay?!" he squeaked loudly enough to be heard from the street.

"Got a problem with that?" Jace crossed his arms in front of his chest clearly indicating that there was a correct answer and that Simon's well-being depended on him getting it right. Clary rolled her eyes.

"Of course not!" he answered and Jace relaxed fractionally. "Love is love and all that. And really after seeing a picture of that guy I can't blame him, not that I have the hots for Alec's guy I'm just saying that objectively speaking he's very good-looking. Then again, so is Alec. So that makes sense I guess..." he trailed off seeing that Jace eyebrows were slowly disappearing under his hair while Isabelle was smiling, amused by his ramblings. "Anyway, what did Alec do?"

"Alec didn't do anything wrong," jumped Izzy her smile disappearing completely. "Why would you even ask that?"

"Well if the breakup had been Magnus fault you two would be planning his demise not a way to help him," he explained and Jace shrugged while Izzy muttered a fair enough. "And he doesn't want any of you near him and neither does the owner of the hotel, so it's clear they didn't split amicably."

"It was my fault," Isabelle declared looking miserable.

"No, it was not!" Jace protested categorically. "It was Hodge's and really if those two had just talked it would have been fixed a long time ago."

"If I hadn't been so reckless I wouldn't have been arrested and none of this would have happened," insisted stubbornly the girl.

"How did you getting arrested made the break up?" Clary was curious looking between the siblings. "And who's Hodge?"

"Yeah guys, could you maybe start this story from the beginning?" Simon told them. "Because you are making zero sense."

"It happened nine month ago," Izzy started. "We were in the middle of a job and I was not careful enough so the feds got me. But they were after a bigger prize," she explained. "They told Alec that they'll release me if he helped them catch Magnus."

"Of course Alec told them exactly where they could shove their offer," Jace continued with a proud grin. "Quite graphically if I remember correctly. But they still had Izzy and Alec didn't want to involve Magnus because he's a bit too prone to heroics and knew how much Izzy meant to him so he was pretty much guaranteed to do something stupid. We decided to go to Hodge for help, instead."

"Hodge was the one who taught us all about this life," Izzy explained them sounding extremely betrayed. "He was like our cool uncle, you know? The grown up we could go with our problems without getting in trouble. Family. We trusted him and we thought we knew him."

"But we didn't. We didn't know that he himself was about to be send to prison for a very long time nor did we know what he was willing to do in order to keep his freedom,." Jace spat out bitterly. "He stole Alec phone and sent us into a wild-goose chase to keep us distracted while he struck the deal with the feds."

"Like I said, he had known us all for a very long time so it wasn't very difficult for him to impersonate Alec over texts. To make Magnus believe he was asking for his help and to meet him in some abandoned warehouse. Nor was it difficult to convince him to bring some equipment that could be used to incriminate him in several felonies. Especially not after he had told him about me being in trouble." Izzy looked positively murderous. "So the feds got Magnus, released me and gave Hodge immunity for all the crimes he had committed."

"And any doubt Magnus had about it being a coincidence disappeared during the interrogation. The agent assigned to him was a fucking homophobe who took glee in telling Magnus about how a relationship between two men could only end in disaster and betrayal." Jace eyes promised very bad thinks to that particular agent.

"Anyway, no prison can hold Magnus for too long, he had already escaped by the second day when we were still plotting a way to get him out," Izzy explained, pride coloring her voice. "We tried to get in contact with him to explain, but he disappeared like smoke and, well, Alec's been heartbroken ever since."

"But all Alec's got to do is explain what actually happened, right?"  Simon asked, looking quite invested in the resolution of this story. "It's like in Mrs. and Mr. Smith, when Mrs. Smith thinks Mr. Smith tried to murder her but in the end neither can kill the other and they reunite and kick everyone's asses!"

"Except real life is not a fucking movie," Jace answered him. "If it was we would have trapped them in a closet and forced them to talk months ago." Then he sighed and run a hand through his hair. "Look, Magnus has been in this business for a long time which means that if he doesn't want us near him we won't be. And he trusts people the way Alec trusts people."

"And by that you mean he doesn't trust people, right?" intervened Clary.

"Mostly yes," agreed Jace. "He has a very small group of people he trust with his life and keeps anyone else at a distance. The only difference between him and Alec in that regard is that Alec does it by being hostile and forcing people to back off and Magnus puts on a glittery extravagant façade and lets you see as much or as little of him as he chooses to." he smiled bitterly. "But they were each other exceptions I suppose? They trusted each other almost from the get go, if not in a 'let's share all our secrets' kind of trust, not at the beginning at least, enough that Alec got to know a Magnus mostly real and that he didn't try to push him away and out of our life at the first opportunity. But now that trust has been broken, it's neither of their faults but it has happened, so why should Magnus believe us? Hell, he has no reason to even listen us out."

"And this is Alec we are talking about," reminded them Isabelle with a sight. "His personal motto is ‘we are Lightwoods, we break noses and accept the consequences'"

"He has a personal motto?" Simon asked delighted. “How did that happen?"

"We may have made a drinking game out of Game of Thrones, don't ask," explained the girl. "Anyway, Alec has always taken responsibility for his actions, and he has always tried to take them for Jace's and mine so we wouldn't have to face them. Hell, there was that time he tried to take the consequences of actions our parents had made before he was born." She rolled her eyes and Jace let out and exasperated sigh. "So of course he thinks suffering for this is his duty."

"Basically they are both stubborn idiots," Simon recapitulated. "So I suppose we are taking this con as an excuse to play matchmaker?"

"No," Izzy was categorically. "This is Alec's life, he is the one that gets to decide how and when he fixes this. Us getting in the middle will only result in disaster, believe me, I know my brother."

"I agree," Jace nodded. "That being said, if the opportunity arises I will tell Magnus what happened that day, whatever Alec likes it or not, because it's as much his life as it's Alec's."

"Wasn't expecting anything else." Izzy smiled at his brother. "Now let's go Simon, we have to get you ready for your interview. Clary you can come too unless you want to stay help Jace to come up with a backstory for his character."

Clarry looked at Jace who was already scribbling ideas in his iPad and shook her head. "I'm coming too if that's okay." Izzy smiled at her and leaded them to the kitchen.

"Before we start maybe we should eat something? I could make pancakes," she offered smiling and Simon face lost all his color.

"Maybe I could do it while you and Simon work?" offered Clary swiftly before Simon could open his mouth and say something that would upset Izzy. "It would give me something to do," she added hopeful.

"Fine, I'll go get you the ingredients," the other girl smiled. "But you'll be missing out, Alec and Jace always say that my pancakes are something else."

"I'm sure they do," muttered Simon. Clary elbowed him in warning. "I'm just saying, they can't stand up to her," he whispered to his best friend.

"They don't want to hurt her feelings," corrected her. "And I think it's sweet." Simon scoffed.

"What are you two whispering about?" Isabelle asked, passing Clary several packages including one labeled as thyme.

Clary took it without blinking and eye. "He is just nervous about this job interview," she lied. It was far more effortless than it had been before she joined the Lightwoods but she decided to ignore the moral connotations of that and focus on its usefulness.

Izzy smiled at Simon, grabbing his arm to force him to sit by her side in the table. "Don't be, really, Raphael is a bit like Alec." Clary snorted when she saw the frightened look in Simon face. "I mean that he can act all cold and tough but he is really a big softie once he takes you in," the girl explained.

"And how does one gets taken in exactly?" Simon asked. "Because I haven't had a lot of luck with Alec so far so I don't think I stand a change with this guy."

"With Raphael just being member of the staff of his hotel and having its best interest at heart is usually enough. He considers everyone there his family." 

"So the best way to get him to like me so I can get a job from him is working for him?" Simon raised an unimpressed eyebrow. "I don't think that's going to help me." The expression of his face told Clary he was debating whatever he should ask Izzy something. "How did you guys win his trust?"

Izzy's face darkened for a moment before she forced a smile. "Some years ago I hit a hard patch," she started, her tone made clear that she was not going to elaborate. "Raphael found me and probably saved my life. He tried to help me but I was in a very bad place so instead of letting him I dragged him down with me." She had to take a deep breath. "In the end we managed to get through it and now everything is fine but well, we kind of had two options: we either cut the other completely out of our life or we bonded over what had happened and helped each other when it was a struggle to keep going. We chose the second one. And there are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other."

The silence in the kitchen was deafening and Clary was desperately looking for something to say to break the tension. "Like knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll." Simon nodded, completely serious and Clary had never been as graceful for his best friend as she was when Izzy started laughing.

"So you two are still friends?" Clary asked when Izzy stopped, trying to regain her breath. "I mean the way Alec was speaking, it sounded like Magnus got Raphael in the break up."

"Of course he did, Magnus and Raphael go way back but I was in prison when that happened, completely unable to participate in that decision so he told me that as long as I acted like I didn't have a brother when I was with him we didn't have to stop being friends." Clary made a face, surprised that Izzy had accepted that condition. "Look, in this line of work, when you become close friends with someone they tend to become like family. When Alec and Magnus broke up we lost him and a handful of other people that meant a hell of a lot to us, and I just couldn't let Raphael be one of them, it's bad enough Magnus doesn't talk to me anymore,"  Isabelle explained, sighing sadly. "But enough gossip, Simon needs to learn anything there is to know about Hotel DuMort before tomorrow."

"The interview is tomorrow?" Clary totally did not laugh at her best friend squeak.

Chapter Text

"Why did I think that letting you stay at my Hotel was a good idea?" Raphael was not amused as he saw Magnus sip into his third... fourth? alcoholic beverage of the evening. He sat down at the stool next to his, quietly gesturing the barman who immediately handed him a bloody Mary.

"Shut up, Santiago, you own me. You wouldn't even have a Hotel if I hadn't helped you take down Camille," Magnus reminded him rolling his eyes. "And it's not like my little game is the only illegal thing going on here."

And yes, Raphael had to concede that he had a point. Hotel DuMort had a bit of a reputation to be a safe haven for all kind of criminals. It was the place where most New York's crews went between missions and Raphael and his staff doubled as matchmakers, introducing people who provided special services to those who needed it, for a commission of course. Although, since Raphael had taken leadership of the operation, assassins, pimps, and the people who requested them had been excluded from their clientele. Because really, white collar criminals were so much pleasant to deal with. And they were also far less likely to leave a mess that could link them to the DuMort.

"That was three years ago, you need new material. Also I'm pretty sure that as awful as it was at the moment, dethroning Camille ended up being good for you," Raphael answered unimpressed. "You did get rid of all her toxicity."

"It was... therapeutic," acknowledged the other man with a nod. "Someone should have told me that the best way to move on from an evil ex was to send them to a secret, not so legal prison for life. Would have saved me a lot of money on ice-cream and booze."

"You know I could get you the Lightwoods whereabouts if you wanted me to," Raphael offered and Magnus gaze hardened.

He sipped his drink disinterestedly for several seconds. "And why would I care about where they are?" he asked with perfect feign nonchalance that would have convinced anyone. Anyone except Raphael, Catarina, Ragnor, Tessa and maybe the Lightwood boy. Not that the bastard deserved it.

"So you can destroy him and move on?" Raphael answered bluntly. "I'm sure if we ask nicely Ragnor will help."

"Don't overestimate the impact Alec had in my life," Magnus said with an icily tone, his companion just raised and unimpressed eyebrow that he pretended not to see while he pasted a carefree smile on his face. "Anyway, what are we doing tomorrow? I feel as if I hadn't had a free day in years. Dealing with corrupt prats who have way too much money is exhausting," he moaned.

"You are not meeting them tomorrow?" Raphael frowned suspiciously. "I thought the plan was to be relentless and a complete pain in the ass until they handed you their money in order to make you go away."

"The plan was being forward and charming until they begged me to take their money, yes," Magnus admitted. "But apparently Smythe got a call from some other bank that's also interested in him," he explained with a shrug. "He has arranged the meeting for tomorrow which give me a full day off," he exclaimed thrilled. "Oh, don't look like that, there's no way a real bank will offer him a deal better than mine, he's clearly just bluffing." 

"If you are sure," the other answered choosing to trust Magnus' judgment, he was the expert, after all. "Tomorrow I have to interview the idiots applying to be our new accountable, you can tag along if you want. I'm sure I'll be able to make at least a couple of them cry."

Magnus laughed. "As much as I like to see you terrorize people I think I'll pass. I haven't gone shopping in ages, if I don't do it soon I may find myself wearing the same outfit twice!" he exclaimed in fake horror. "And I was thinking maybe I'll put some color in my hair again, the judges already take me seriously so it's not likely to harm my con. Would I look good with blue in it, do you think? Or red maybe."

"I really couldn't care less," answered tiredly Raphael. "And please, cut it out with the fake cheerfulness, you are getting insufferable, real cheerfulness is annoying enough as it is."

Magnus placed his finished drink back on the bar with more force than necessary. "Well, aren't you just delightful tonight," he snapped. "If your dark and miserable soul can't handle my naturally sunny personality I'll go find someone who can. Preferably someone attractive," he told him with a wink.

Magnus was already getting up when Raphael answered, "Please, we both know tonight you'll be going back to your room alone. Again. Your faithfulness to that two-faced boy toy is starting to get pathetic." His friend just left the bar refusing to dignify him with even a glance. "Alec Lightwood should be shot," Raphael informed his barman before drowning the remainings of his drink in one go.

 

Raphael mood hadn't improved by the next day when he found himself in a room with five other people. He looked at them unimpressed. Two women, two men and a guy that didn't seem to have more than twenty years, great. Not that Raphael was much older, but he did have a lot of experience and the way that guy was fidgeting with the hems of his jacket showed quite clearly that he didn't. "We are going to have to be quick," he informed them with a bored expression. "I have a meeting in twenty minutes and it's important. We're trying to convert the Hotel into a sober space, and we still have so much to decide."

"Are you insane?" the guy blurted out. "You are aware that half of the people that come here do so because you're club have a reputation as the best one in the city, right?" he asked incredulous.

"I'm sorry... what's your name?" Raphael asked slowly trying to look as intimidating as possible. "Doesn't really matter," he said cutting him of when he tried to answer. "What matters is that apparently you know what's best for my hotel better than I do." 

"No!" the guy shook his head generically enough to almost make his glasses fall. "I just think destroying your best attraction is maybe a mistake," he said clearly not trying to sound sarcastic.

"Anyone else agrees with him?" Raphael diverted his glare from the guy to the other four candidates who were divide between looking gleeful their competition was utterly destroying themselves and pityingly as the boy kept rambling, trying to fix the situation. They all shook their heads. "Well then, the four of you can get going," he said pointing the door. "Closing the club would be sentencing the Hotel to dead so there are really only two reasons I can think that would make any of you agree with me. One, none of you has put enough research into this job or the Hotel to know this which is intolerably lazy. Or two, all of you are a bunch of spineless morons that would let me destroy your working place in order to avoid contradicting me which is even worse." The five contestants looked at him frozen in horror. "Did I not make myself clear?" he asked impatiently. “There’s the door."

While the four rejects were leaving the room, Raphael fixed his gaze once again on the youngest one. "What's your name?" he asked again, this time with less irritation.

"Lewis. I mean Simon. Simon Lewis," he corrected with a wince.

"Well Simon, congratulations, you just got the job," he told him. "Or you will, unless you fail this interview badly enough to convince me that not having an accountant is better than contracting you," he amended, lest the guy got too comfortable. "Come into my office."

Simon nodded and followed him, sitting awkwardly at the chair in front of the owner's desk. "So, why should I hire you?" Raphael asked him directly.

"Because you need an accountable?" It was phrased more like a question that an answer. "And you just kind of dismissed all your other options," he added sounding more sure.

"Well, I couldn't contract a bunch of idiots who let fear and ambition override their common sense," the older man shrugged disinterestedly. "The previous owner favored fools who didn't think, didn't object and didn't ask questions. I do not," he explained. "At least not to that degree," he corrected. "That being said, if you want to work here there will be times when you'll have to obey without questioning me and there will be things and people that you won't be able ask about. Is that acceptable?"

"And here I thought this was just a hotel," Simon quipped. "But to answer your question, I guess I can do that as long as what I have to do is not too unethical?" he mused. "I can deal with a bit unethical, though," he added earnestly causing Raphael to suppress a smile before the implications of the phrase sank and his amusement turned into suspicion.

"And why would you feel the need to clarify that?" Raphael asked narrowing his eyes at him. The guy didn't look like a cop but one could never be too cautious.

"Ughhh..." Simon looked at him like a deer caught in headlights which didn't help at all to tranquilize the other man. "Luke!" he exclaimed loudly making Raphael jump, much to his chagrin. "Luke Garroway? He is the one that told me you were hiring," he explained in a far lower tone, cheeks red in embarrassment. "I've been best friend with his daughter for years and I found out recently that the Jade Wolf is maybe not all that it seems?" he hinted and Raphael nodded. "And he said this Hotel wasn't either. He did not specify though which makes me kind of curious, what do you do here exactly?"

"That's one of the things you are not allowed to ask about," the Latino man answered swiftly. "So do you have any experience in the hotel industry?" he decided to continue with the interview satisfied, for the moment, with that answer.

"Not really? This is kind of my first job at all." Simon admitted. Then he winced. "Or it will be if you hire me." he amended. "Though I have worked some shift at the Jade Wolf and I always help my mother with her taxes."

"Maybe I've dismissed all the other candidates too hastily." Raphael sighed though he smirked when he heard Simon squeak. "What would you say is your biggest flaw when it comes to work?

"Usually I would say it is my inability to ever shut up but you seemed to approve of that," Simon answered with a tiny smile that Raphael couldn't help but answer with one of his own.

"I approved of you being able to tell me when I'm wrong, not the rambling," he corrected but his voice didn't come out quite as harshly as he intended. "And what's your best quality?"

"That I know accounting? You seem interested on that," Simon joked. “And well, I'm hardworking, I suppose, and quite reliable, or so I've been told," he added quickly when he saw Raphael frowning.

"And would you be able to keep two different books one of which you'd only be allowed to show me?" Raphael asked, he wasn't sure if he trusted Simon, would decide only after talking to Luke, but keeping two books wasn't technically illegal and it was what the hotel needed.

"Yes, of course, that's why I said I was comfortable with a bit unethical," Simon reassured quickly. "Does this mean I get the job?"

"Well I suppose, I mean you're the only one that I haven't already dismissed," Raphael told him, and found himself regretting it when the other man whooped. "You'll be required to act a lot more professionally," he warned him. "Now, let's discuss what your job will actually entail."

 

Two hours later Raphael found himself back in his office after having given Simon a quick tour of the hotel and explained to him its policies in general. Then he had dropped him with Lily who would be training him for a week so they could get acquaintance. Raphael took his phone, hesitated for a second and wrote a text.

[To Isabelle       17:38]

Why are people so stupid?

 

The reply came almost instantly.

 

[From Isabelle                 17:39]

Now, that's a little harsh, don't you think?

[From Isabelle                 17:39]

Rough day? Let me guess, you either had to deal with an unsatisfied client or are in the process of contracting someone.

 

[To Isabelle       17:40]

We need an accountant and the only barely acceptable candidate is a kid that doesn't know how to shut up.

 

[From Isabelle                 17:42]

Is he cute, at least?

 

[To Isabelle       17:43]

I suppose, in an insufferable nerd kind of way. He's made at least five Star Wars references in half an hour tour. Honestly I'd be impress if I wasn't so disturbed.

 

[From Isabelle                 17:43]

And you caught them all? Now who's the nerd?

 

 [To Isabelle      17:45]

I blame my siblings for that.

 

[From Isabelle                 17:46]

That is my go to strategy. It always works.

 

Raphael smiled and almost send back a "not surprising given who your siblings are" but ended up deleting it. It sounded far fonder and bantering that it had a right. Isabelle may have been blameless but Alec and Jace had proven themselves to be complete bastards and he was not going to forget that easily. Not when it had harmed Magnus in the worst way possible. So instead he just informed Isabelle that he'd contact her later and decided to advance some of the paperwork pilling on the table.

"So did you actually make them cry?" Magnus interrupted him a couple of hours later, sitting in the visitor's chair elegantly. His hair was styled with bright red tips complemented his brand new outfit but it only made Raphael sigh. Magnus had always loved color and glitter, adorning himself tastefully even when the occasion didn't warrant it, but this? This wasn't his usual 'I enjoy being shiny' getup, this was his war armor.

"Did something happen?" he asked ignoring Magnus question.

Magnus shook his head disapprovingly. "Dear, why are you always so suspicious?"

"Because people are awful and the world keeps proving me right," Raphael answered without missing a beat. "What went wrong?" he pressed.

"Smythe is meeting with that 'competitor' of mine again tomorrow," the older man explained. "Just before our weekly drinks in your club."

"I thought you were going to seal the deal with them tomorrow." 

"That was the plan but with a new offer from another bank those men may stall me for a month more, at least." Magnus sighed despairingly.

But there was something else, Magnus didn't look like he was dreading a month of bargaining again. He looked... competitive? And a bit excited, actually. "You don't think it's another bank," Raphael realized. 

"I told you, no legit bank will offer them a deal nearly as good as mine," he answered, his face breaking in a wide, salvage smirk. "Someone is trying to rip them off as well and, considering the amount of corrupt jerks in this city, I don't think it's a coincidence they went after my mark."

"Are you telling me that someone is stupid enough to challenge you in a long con?" Raphael asked incredulous. He was torn, on one hand he hadn't seen Magnus this excited since...well, since the breakup. But on the other, anyone trying to steal Magnus' con had to be either extremely stupid or extremely dangerous. "Do you know who they are?" he asked trying to hide his worry.

Magnus shook his head. "No idea," he shrugged nonchalantly.

"Do you want me to look into it?" he asked Magnus. "I could find someone to hack Smythe security footage and see who that meeting was with."

"No need, I'll meet them tomorrow," Magnus explained. "The only reason Smythe would arrange the meeting just before our drinks is so he can invite them and pit us against each other."

"Well, at least you'll be playing home." Raphael gestured the hotel absently. "But I still think it wouldn't hurt to do a bit of reckon on them."

Magnus huffed exasperated. "Smythe security system is too hard for anyone to crack in a day, and considering I'll be meeting them tomorrow it would only be a waste of time."

Raphael took a deep breath. "Not for anyone," he muttered. "We both know somebody that could do it in under an hour."

"No." Was all Magnus said.

"Come on, Magnus, Izz is the best hacker in America, and you know it'll safer to go to that meeting with a bit of Intel on your rival," Raphael insisted.

"I said no." Magnus tone was harsher than Raphael had ever heard it.

"She was not to blame for what her brothers did," tried to reason Raphael.

"I know that!" his friend protested indignantly.

"Then don't punish her for it!"

"I'm not! I'm just listening to you and Ragnor for once and putting myself first!" shouted Magnus. Raphael make and inquisitive sound that forced him to elaborate. "I can't see her, okay? She will bring back a lot of memories I'd rather not have. And she looks so much like Alexan... like Alec," he corrected himself forcefully, "and I don't want to see anyone that looks like him ever again." His voice broke a bit so he straightened himself up and plastered a bitter smile in his lips. "And if I've learned something this past year is that the Lightwoods loyalty lies with the Lightwoods. I can't trust Isabelle not to do something in behalf of her brother." He raised a hand to stop Rafael's protest. "You know she'd do it, it'd be with her best intentions and a desire to see both of us happy but she'd do it. And I couldn't take it, not yet. I promise one day I'll let her back in but I need more time."

"Fine," Raphael grunted. "I suppose you'll refuse if I offer to ask her without you being involved in any way?"

"Yes, I don't want them anywhere near this." Magnus crossed his arms over his chest.

"Then I guess I'll have to hire more muscle for tomorrow, one never knows." Raphael sighed.

The air in the room was still charged and tense, both men sitting in the edge of their seats and feeling awkward, when there was a knock on the door. Raphael signaled them to enter and was surprise to see their new accountant at the door.

"Has Lily got tired of you already?" he teased causing Magnus to look at him with surprise.

Simon shook his head vigorously. "I've finished what she wanted me to do for today but technically my work day doesn't end for a while yet so she said to come ask you what else should I do."

Raphael looked at his wrist clock; Simon still had an hour and a half of shift. Normally he would have allowed him to go home but he had so much paperwork to do and well, it would go faster if he had someone to help him with it. “Bring a chair here and help me fill these forms out,” he ordered and Magnus let out a high pitch noise of surprise. Raphael ignored him focusing instead on Simon who somehow managed to hit the chair he was carrying twice against the wall before setting it besides the desk.

"And you are?" Magnus asked arching an eyebrow at Simon whose eyes widened like he was registering his presence for the first time.

"He's my new accountable, Simon Lewis," answered for him Raphael, cursing himself for letting a bit of possessiveness slip into his tone. "And he has to work so don't bother him, Magnus," he ended, putting some files in front of Simon and handing him one of the already filled forms to use as example.

"He doesn't bother me," said Simon starting to work. "I'm very good at multitasking. I can talk and work at the same time, no problem."

"The problem comes when one wants to get you to shut up," grumbled Raphael who didn't like Magnus delighted look.

"I'm Magnus Bane," his friend introduced himself. "So, did Raphael make you cry during the interview? He promised me he would manage to make at least one of you weep" 

"Por el amor de Dios, Magnus!"

"Well, he threw the others way too fast for me to see if they cried but I wouldn't be surprised if some of them had a breakdown on the car. Or barricaded themselves in the bathroom for an hour before they could get to thwm." Simon looked at the papers trying, unsuccessfully, to hide a smirk.

Raphael smiled, pleasantly surprised to see that his new employee had a bit of a mean side. "Well, I can attest that I made at least one applicant squeak," he offered Magnus and watched with satisfaction as Simon went completely red.

"That was not a squeak!" he protested then his eyes widened with realization. "You were trying to scare me on propose."                                                                                                                                      

Raphael smirked at him. "Now, why would you think that?"

"He totally was," confided in him Magnus. "But don't you worry he might act tough but he is actually a giant teddy bear." Raphael was seriously considering throwing him onto the streets.

"That's what I've been told," laughed Simon uninhibited.

Raphael raised an eyebrow. "Luke told you I was soft?" he asked torn between incredulity and offense. The relationship between his establishment and Luke's had improved since they both had taken command but they weren't nearly friendly enough for that comment to be acceptable.

Simon seemed to freeze for a second before smirking at Raphael. "Lily did," he corrected and now Raphael felt definitely betrayed, Lily was his second in command! She was supposed to be on his side."Well, she didn't say it say it. But I could read between lines," Simon amended and Raphael couldn't even be mad at him because Magnus was laughing, completely carefree, and he had missed that sight for nine long months.

"Is it too soon to fire him?" he asked Magnus completely serious causing him to laugh harder and Simon to pale.

"I think it’s actually too late to fire him. I like him," Magnus told him and then smiled at Simon. "He likes you too." And Raphael had to admit that the smile Simon threw his way was kind of blinding.

“He is a professional liar; you shouldn’t believe a word out of his mouth.” Raphael pointed at Magnus. “Just like you should be doing the paperwork I’ve given you instead of chatting with him.” He added. “At this rhythm you won’t finish a single report before I send you home.”

Simon smile only grew will he handled him a neatly filled one. The guy was a fast worker, Raphael would give him that. He scanned the page looking for mistakes, Simon’s nervous gaze on him glued on him, and was pleasantly surprise when he found none. “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” He told him. Magnus had to hide his laugher behind a fit of cough.

“Did you just…” Simon was looking at him dumb folded and Raphael employed every ounce of willpower he possessed into maintaining a blank, impatient expression. “Never mind” Simon stopped himself. He kept working sending quizzical glances towards his boss when he though he wasn’t looking.

Raphael couldn’t suppress a smirk. He had even forgotten for a moment that Magnus was there. “Simon could you bring us some coffee?” his friend asked, face a mask of innocence that made Raphael shiver.

“He is my accountable, not your errand boy.” He did not want to be left alone with Magnus when he was sporting that expression.

“I don’t mind, I could use some coffee” Simon interjected unhelpfully.

And now Magnus was smirking so Raphael resigned to his fate. “Fine” he sighed. “Go to the kitchen and tell Stan to give you some slices of pie too, maybe it will keep this one entertained long enough for us to actually do some work.” He added sending a murderous glare to his best friend. Simon’s face lightened up at the mention of the dessert and Raphael did not find it endearing in any way. He did not.

The moment the door closed after Simon Magnus spoke. “I knew you were a nerd but flirting with Star Wars’ references? That’s on a whole new level!” he teased.

“Don’t know what you are talking about.” Raphael refused to blush.

“Even I realized that that was a Han Solo quote, Raph.” His friend rolled his eyes. “Poor Simon doesn’t know you like Star Wars, though. He’ll probably lay awake tonight wondering whatever or not it was on purpose.” He ended dramatically.

“The plan was to torture him with that doubt yes.” Raphael acknowledge with a smirk. “But I was teasing him, not flirting.” He added when he saw the pure glee in Magnus eyes.

“I call bullshit.” Magnus disagreed. “You want to cuddle the hell out of that boy.”

“Magnus!” Raphael spluttered indignant.

“Don’t worry, my boy, I’m leaving, wouldn’t want to intrude on your date.” He winked at him. “Pie and coffee it’s a classic. Though most people do stop working when going out with someone.” Magnus was already on the door, not giving Raphael the opportunity to tell him how wrong he was. “Baby steps, I suppose, baby steps.” And with one last wink he was gone leaving Raphael to wait alone in his office for Simon’s return.

Chapter Text

Jace was not surprise when he found his brother shirtless and sweaty beating a punching bag with all the force he could muster. "You okay there, Alec?" he asked trying to hide how worried he actually was.

"Why wouldn't I be?" his brother retorted without stopping. Jace just rolled his eyes and grabbed him by the arm, forcing him to stop. "I'm fine, Jace" Alec said within gritted teeth.

"No, you are not, and we both know it." the blonde stated. "And I'd usually let you talk to me when you felt ready to but if we're doing a job that includes the feds we need to make sure we are all at our one hundred percent."

Alec crossed his arms in front his chest defensibly. "Are you saying I can't handle this?" he asked frowning. "I'm not the reckless one, remember?" he told him unkindly "Unlike some other people, I know how keep my emotions on check."

"No, you know how to keep your emotions in lock down until they eventually explode." Jace corrected. "And trying to pick a fight with me is not going to get you out of this conversation." he assured him. "In fact, it's just proving me right, you are not fine. And you need to talk about it before we actually make contact with Magnus or you could slip up and put as all in danger."

Alec looked even madder than before but he at least uncrossed his arms. "Okay, let's have this talk" he sighed. "Yes, I still have feeling for Magnus. No, I don't want to talk about it. Yes, this job is going to be hard, especially since he hates me now. But no, I won't let it put you or him in danger. Conversation over." he finished moving to leave the room only to have Jace grab his arm again.

"Why don't you just talk to him, Alec?" Jace asked. "Yes, I know he's been avoiding you ever since but you are one of the best thieves of our generation, you could manage to get him alone somewhere. Or you could go to Raphael, Catarina or Ragnor, they may want you dead but they would listen. Well, Catarina and Ragnor would, Raphael would probably incapacitate you first" he continued trying to catch Alec eyes. "Hell, you could contract a skywriter or put an ad in every paper of the country." Alec rolled his eyes. "I just don't understand, Alec. You two had a really good thing going on and it's not like you to just give up." Jace tone turned softer, almost pleading. "Just tell me why you aren’t fighting for this, please"

Alec's reply was just as soft "I hurt him." he fixed his eyes on Jace's. "I hurt him, Jace. Worse than anyone before me had because he actually trusted me, he thought I wouldn't do that, hell his friends thought I wouldn't do that. And yes, I know it was not my fault but does it matter? I hurt him." Alec's eyes were sadder than Jace's had ever seen them. "When we were together it always felt like it was too good to be true, you know? And I ignored it because... well, because I had Magnus and nothing else seemed to matter. But it was, wasn't it? And then it all fell apart and Magnus was the one that ended up suffering and that's just... that's not right."

"It's not like you've been having such a great time those past nine months" Jace reminded him quietly.

"No, but I'm not the one that has spend them thinking the man I loved had betrayed me. That he had chosen someone over me in such a final way." the dark haired man answered.

"And I'm sure it must have been awful but don't you think he deserve to know that you didn't? That maybe you should stop him from feeling like that ever again?" his brother tried to reason.

"But can I?" Alec answered. "Because I would have never taken that offer, that much is true, but there were other ways to save Izzy. What if one day there aren't? We were together for two years and I love him, I love him so much, I don't think I'll ever feel for anyone what I feel for him. But just like I could never chose you over Izzy or Izzy over you, I could never chose him over you two, nor could I chose you two over him. It's a three-way tie. And Magnus deserve someone who'll put him first, above everything else, every time and without hesitation. I'm not sure I can do that if your life or Izzy's is on the line."

"That's bullshit, Alec" Jace told him annoyed "Anyone that has met you knows that you tying him with me and Izzy means that you would blow up the world for him, with you and everyone else still in it if necessary. Just because you love Izzy and me too doesn't mean you love him any less." he told him, Alec tried to speak but Jace raised a hand, stopping him. "And you have chosen him over Izzy and me, hell, you bailed on me on my birthday because Magnus was upset, I don't even remember why, and you spend the day with him watching movies instead of celebrating with me." he reminded Alec. "No one is going to put a gun on my head, Izzy's and Magnus' and ask you to choose which one lives. And Magnus knows you've basically dedicated your life to look after us, he knows we are important to you and he understands. Honestly if someone put a gun on your head and on Raphael's or Catarina's or Ragnor's, Magnus would probably not know what to do either. People have families, Alec, be it by blood or by choice. And being a relationship doesn't mean having to stop caring for your family; romantic love and platonic love don't need to compete, not in healthy relationships. Magnus doesn't need to be your only important person in life, he only needs you to be there when he calls for you, to always make time for him even if there are other people you care for. And you did that, you always found a way to talk to him every day and make sure he knew you were thinking about him, you brought him takeout when you knew he was too busy working to remember to eat, you answered every time he called you, no matter what, and you were always getting him little gifts for no reason other than wanting to see him smile. I know all this because Catarina and I got him drunk once and he spent two hours bragging about how wonderful and thoughtful his boyfriend was. God, that day was fun, Raphael wanted to kill us and him not fifteen minutes in, Ragnor lasted even less but he just wanted to kill himself to avoid having to keep listen Magnus... I'm pretty sure Izzy recorded it all." he snorted at the memory before getting serious again fixing his eyes on Alec's. "Just think about it, okay? And remember you aren't the only one suffering here."

"I will" Alec said "I promise" he added causing Jace's shoulders to relax. "Now do you want to train or do we start braiding each other's hair?" he taunted.

"Training, definitely. That's way enough feeling talk for me for like a year" Jace joked. "And Izzy will kick our asses if she finds out we have been doing braiding without her."

 

After training with Alec, and vowing to himself that he wasn't going to do that again until Alec had worked out his issues (his whole body was totally going to be bruised tomorrow), Jace went to take a shower. He came out of the bathroom wearing only a towel and to his delight Clary was waiting for him in his room.

She stared at him, moth falling open and cheeks blushed. "Sorry. I'm... I just wanted to talk to you about something." she stammered. "But I can come back later." she added gaze still fixed in Jace's chest and abs.

"That's okay" Jace was trying to hide his satisfaction, and smugness, from his voice. "Just let me get dressed first." he asked. He allowed himself to smile once Clary had turned around and quickly got dressed with sweatpants and a loose t-shirt that had probably been Alec’s at some point. "Done, what did you want to talk to me about?" he asked.

Clary turned to face him again but her cheeks were still flushed much to Jace's satisfaction. "Magnus" she answered sitting in the bed. "I'd like to know more about him. He must be something else to have caught Alec's attention."

The blond smiled "Well, in Alec's words, Magnus is... quite magical" his tone was as teasing as it was fond.

"Did he actually say that?" Clary asked incredulous.

"Well, he stammered that" Jace winked at her. "But seriously, Magnus is great. He doesn't take anyone's shit and his sense of humor is hilarious. He also throws the greatest parties. His worst flaw is his inability of not adopting every stray that comes knocking on his door." Clary laughed at that. "He kind of adopted me for a while." Jace admitted softly.

"Really? When?" Clary asked in the same tone trying to smile reassuringly.

"Just after he and Alec had started dating I made a mistake during a con, the kind of mistake that forces you to lay low in a safe house for a few weeks. Alec and Izzy hadn't been compromised though so we decided that they would finish the job while I hid. Or well, Alec and Izzy decided, I wasn't that thrilled with the idea" Jace explained. "I couldn't stay in the house we shared because it was a part of the con and they couldn't be seen changing their routine to go see me so I knew that if I got a room in a hotel or something I would spend weeks without seeing them and that was not acceptable. I mean we didn't even know how long that job was going to take!"

"So you decided to move into your brother's boyfriend's home?" Clary asked incredulous. "Can't imagine Alec being too happy with the idea."

"Oh, he was pissed." Jace admitted. "Especially since I interrupted their date to ask Magnus for a spare room. But like I said Magnus is incapable of turning people in need away so he let me stay with him."

"Poor guy." Clary teased and to her surprise Jace smile turned soft and a bit self-deprecating.

"Yeah" he admitted. "I acted a bit like an ass at first. I was furious with myself for getting benched and hated that Alec and Izzy were out there, in a potentially dangerous situation, without me to watch their backs so I kind of spend the first week acting out." he grimaced deciding not to mention how exactly he had been acting out. "Magnus always says that he is not patient but that's the biggest lie I've ever heard. He put out with me for days without saying a word. Of course, he could only stop Alec for so long before he tore me a new one and made me apologize. And after that we started bonding, mostly about Alec and Project Runway. We have very strong opinions about both."

Clary smiled. "I didn't know you watched Project Runaway." she commented and Jace soft smile fell.

"I don't, not anymore." he told her. "It's not fun without Alec complaining every five minutes because I sat between him and Magnus on the couch to avoid him turning ‘Project Runaway’ time into ‘making out with my boyfriend while a very uncomfortable Jace is sitting in the same room trying to watch TV’ time." he explained nostalgically.

"You miss him." Clary said, it wasn't a question but Jace nodded anyway. "Well, maybe when all of this is over you and Magnus can catch up with this season. I've heard it’s a good one" he offered with a smile.

Jace responding smile was genuine and bright.

 

Jace's smile was not as genuine the next day when he found himself sitting in the office of judge Smythe.

"So Mr. Logan, I've been revising the offer you made me yesterday" Smythe told Jace over a glass of scotch. "I have to admit, it's beyond generous. Where's the catch?" he smiled good-naturedly though his eyes were narrowed on Jace.

Jace laughed, reclining himself against the back of luxurious sofa confidently. "There's no catch, Your Honor." he reassured him. "My bank just likes to make sure our clients are satisfied." he told him shooting him his most charming smile. "Though, between you and me" he lowered his voice confidentially "we wouldn't mind meeting some of your friends, especially those in need of a place to keep their money safe."

The judge seemed to relax. "I do know some people that match that description." he admitted cunningly. "We actually meet to have drinks every Thursday, actually." he informed.

"Must be my lucky day" Jace played along. "Maybe I could come with you?" he asked.

"If you don't mind drinking with the competence" the judge warned him to which Jace make an interrogative sound. "There's a Swiss that's as interested in me and my friends as you are Mr. Logan." he explained.

Jace meticulously let his face blank so Smythe would think he was trying to hide his worry and frustration. "Can’t say I blame him, you and your friends are very interesting people." he told him smoothly. "And you can call me John, Your Honor, we're going for drinks together after all."

"Very well, you may call me Smythe." the judge allowed grabbing his jacket.

They spent the ten minutes walk to the hotel DuMort making small talk, with Jace charming the judge as thoroughly as possible and getting more information about him and his friends that Smythe though he was giving. "So, here we are" the man when they were in front of the door. "This is the best club in the city" he assured. "I'm surprise you haven't come here before."

"I'm not that often in New York." Jace replied. "Though I hope that will change soon, it's a lovely city."

"Best city in the world." the judge proclaimed proudly. "Now, let's go inside, they are waiting for us."

"Remember, you have to meet the Judges and Magnus before Raphael sees you" Alec voice came from his earbud and Jace rolled his eyes. "Simon is entertaining him but the moment you step inside someone is going to go warn him and unless Magnus tells him not to he'll throw you out regardless of the consequence for the job."

Jace repressed a frustrated sigh, not being able to talk back to Alec was trying, especially when he was being obnoxious and telling him things he already knew. He rearranged the camera in his tie pin before passing a hand through his hair. They were already inside the club and Jace had to force himself not to look around for a glittery presence. "It is a very nice club" he told the other man trying to keep in character.

"I told you so." Smythe looked pleased. "Look, my friends are over there." he pointed to a table in the corner where two very boring looking men were sitting with Magnus. Magnus, who had more makeup and glitter on than Jace had ever seen him wear. His hair had red tips, a secret favorite of Alec's, and Jace almost smiled but stopped himself when he saw the narrowed eyes the man was directing at him.

"Magnus" Alec sighed, probably involuntarily and Jace prayed he was accepting the comforting touch Izzy was undoubtedly offering him.

"I hope you don't mind I invited my friend to drink with us" Smythe was saying completely oblivious at the staring battle Magnus was having with Jace's tie. "Everyone, this is John Logan, he works from the Winsor Bank." he explained and Magnus eyes narrowed even more. "These are judge Carrington and Locke. And that's..."

"Michael Bing" interrupted Jace. "We've met before" he explained. "Though we hadn't seen each other in about nine month, right?"

"I suppose, I haven't exactly been counting." Magnus smile was as icy as was polite. "How's the family?" he asked tone dripping with sarcasm.

"Oh, they are fine." Jace answered smoothly. "How's yours?" he asked in return.

"Can't complain." Magnus gaze was fixed on Jace’s eyes, serious and unamused. "I didn't know you two were in business together." he said smiling charmingly at the judge.

"Oh, there's nothing decided yet." the judge replied. "But you know I like to keep my options open and I know my guys like it too." he said smiling at the other two judges that looked delighted at the possibility of getting an even better deal. "So when he came into my office with an offer almost as good as yours I thought I'll introduce him. No hard feelings?" he asked jokingly.

"Of course not." Magnus replied "The more the merrier" he looked for a moment directly into the Lightwoods camera. "I was just surprise to see him here."

"Tell him about the feds" Alec ordered sounding a bit distracted.

"You think he'll believe us?" Izzy wondered.

"Doesn't matter, he needs to know so he'll be more careful" Alec told his sister. "Jace, tell him"

"Well, Lydia told me there were opportunities in New York so I decided to pay a visit." he said, emphasizing Lydia's name and Magnus eyes widened for a split second. "Though she didn't know exactly who was willing to do business." Jace continued staring right at Magnus.

"Well, you know women" judge Carrington laughed. "Always ready to gossip but never knowing the things that actually matter."

"Oh, I'll enjoy seeing Magnus rob him blind" Izzy sighed causing Jace to chuckle genuinely along with the other men.

"Is everything okay here?" a cold, threatening voice came from behind Jace who turned slowly to face the owner of the hotel. "I see we have a new face." he said managing to show all his teeth in the world's most menacing smile.

"Isn't it wonderful?" Magnus intervened in a warning tone. "John is a banker like me," he explained with a masterly disguised mocking tone.

"Interesting" Raphael drawled. "Are you sure none of you need anything?" he asked eyes firmly on Magnus.

"We are fine, thank you very much" judge Locke told him and Magnus nodded in agreement causing Raphael to tense even more.

"Actually I could do with a martini" Jace smiled causing his siblings to groan in his ear.

"I'll make sure you get one" Raphael told him almost threateningly "Please, enjoy your time in my hotel" he added before leaving towards the bar.

"Is he going to poison it?" Clary asked concerned.

"Probably not" Izzy told her. "A death by poison would look bad for his hotel. He may hire someone to stab Jace the moment he is out, though."

"Well, gentleman" Jace said looking all of them with a smile. "Shall we talk business?"

Chapter Text

"I can't believe you!" Isabelle had known since the moment the id caller had shown her Raphael's name that this wasn't going to be a pleasant conversation. "Didn't you hurt him enough last time? Does your asshole of a brother enjoy breaking his heart?"

"Careful there, Raphael" Izzy warned him "I understand that you are angry but Alec's my brother and I won't stand by you insulting him."

"You are lucky all I'm doing is insulting him" Raphael fumed. "Debería matarlo por lo que le hizo a Magnus" he switched to Spanish angrily.

"No tienes ni idea de lo que paso. So stop with the death threats." Izzy told him. "He is actually trying to help."

Izzy heard Raphael sigh over the phone and sat in the couch knowing this conversation was going to be difficult "Yeah, we got the message. Say thank you to Lydia for me." he asked. "And tell your brothers to back off, Magnus can handle this. And even if he couldn't, he wouldn't want your help. Nor would he trust it." he spat.

"We are not backing down, we owe him." Izzy told him firmly. "You know we're good at this and we aren't the ones that are being investigated. We are finishing this job."

Raphael laugh was unforgiving. "And then what? Does your brother expects that then Magnus will take him back so he can betray him again next time you or blondie break a nail? Does he actually thinks this makes up for what he did? That Magnus will ever forgive him? That I will ever let him near Magnus again?" his tone was mocking and furious. "Because let me tell you, I thought he was smarter than that. Then again, he threw Magnus under the bus without blinking and eye so I clearly misjudged him the first time. I don't know why I thought he would at least have the decency to leave him alone."

"We are just trying to help" protested the girl. "And you don't know what happened, you don't have the whole story."

"I know he betrayed Magnus. I know that Magnus has spend the last nine months alternating between drinking and crying himself to sleep. I know I trusted him to take care of Magnus and he failed. I don't need to know anything else." the man snarled. "And yes, I know how close the three of you are, and there are very few thinks I wouldn't do for my family but Alec had other options, hell, if he had asked we will have all helped get you out so don't you dare tell me he didn't have a choice." Raphael took a deep breath trying to calm himself. "I'll just tell you this once more, Lightwood, call. this. off. It's the least you can do." and then he hang up without giving Izzy a change to say anything else.

"We are not calling it off." Alec voice in her ear reminded her that he was still wearing her comms and she cursed herself for not having disconnected them before taking the call. "Magnus is getting our help whatever he wants it or not."

"Alec" she tried. "What he said about you... about Magnus..." she tried.

"It was nothing I didn't already know” Alec said, his voice sounded detached which told Isabelle that he was anything but "We are in the middle of a con, Izzy, focus."

"He wouldn't have said that if he knew." his sister ignored him. "Alec you can still make this right. You just have to talk to him."

"I just have to complete this job." Alec corrected. "And then get the hell out of his life, Raphael was right, it's the least I can do." 

Izzy wanted to insist but she realized that if she wanted this conversation to go to somewhere she couldn’t have it in the middle of a con with three other people, two of which Alec did not trust, listening to it so instead she just focused in the screens in front of her. "I managed to hack into the hotel's security system. Raphael really needs to get himself a better hacker." she decided to change subject. "Though I admit, it would have taken longer without Simon's input."

"Hacking has always been kind of a hobby of mine." Izzy smiled, Simon blush was evident even in the security footage.

"Well, with a bit of practice you'll be almost as good as I am." told him Izzy, too bad their crew didn't need another hacker though, but Simon was smart, she was sure they'd find him some other thing to do with them. "And you need to stop speaking to us, people are going to get suspicious if you keep talking alone." she reminded him.

"Sorry" Simon said with grimace "Anyway, for what is worth I think Raphael calling is a good thing, he doesn't seem the type to give a heads up to anyone he actually wants to destroy."

"True" Izzy remarked "But I got a feeling drinks this Friday night have been cancelled." she smiled sadly. "Okay, I got visual on the bar. Clary, are you ready?" she asked kindly.

"Sure, I just have to have small talk with anyone that seems to be looking towards the judges too frequently, right?" she asked sounding nervous.

"Exactly, if they’re an FBI agent they'll try to cut the chat short and make you leave." Izzy explained her.

"And how do you know there is an agent in the hotel?" Simon asked with curiosity.

"We don't" Alec explained "But if I was trying to catch someone like Magnus I wouldn't leave an unsupervised corrupt snitch on their own with him. He is way too good, he could completely flip the situation without them knowing for weeks, he's done it before."

"So yeah, we're betting on an agent being there" Isabelle summarized "If we get a face, or even better, a name we can ask Lydia to tell us which cases they've closed which could led us towards the informant's identity."

"Okay" Clary breathed deeply "Okay. I'm ready." she told them. "I'm going to start with the man in the corner drinking a soda. If there's an agent on duty they shouldn't be drinking right?"

"They should also try to blend in" Alec told her. "That man is wearing a suit way too cheap for anyone not to notice, he has looked at his watch five times since he arrived and can stop sending glances to the door. His whole body screams nerves and his clothing makes him stick like a sore thumb. Don't waste time with him, he is not FBI."

"Fine" Clary muttered. "Why don't you tell me who I should speak to, then?"

Izzy smiled at the defiance in her voice. "Don't get frustrated, it's only your first time." she said, more as a reminder to Alec than to Clary. "You are right they won't be drinking alcohol but they are going to pretend to be. They will also be most likely alone or in pairs, dressed well but maybe with cheaper accessories, like watches or cufflinks.  They won't get engrossed with any conversation nor with anyone they are talking and are probably using earbuds just like us so look for anyone doing everything we told you and Simon not to do like talking to themselves or touching their ears too much."

"How about the women in a red dress?" Clary suggested. "Her dress is very beautiful but I recognize the brand of lipstick she was just applying and it's a very affordable one." she explained.

"Well spotted" Isabelle smiled. "Now go talk to her" she ordered and watched as the girl obeyed walking casually over the table. She sat in the empty stool by her side and asked for a drink.

"And make it strong please, I'm having one of those days." the bartender nodded and turned around to prepare the drink clearly trying to avoid having to play the therapist while still remaining professional. The woman in the red dress smiled at Clary sympathetically and the redhead took her chance. "Why are men the way they are?" she asked her with a huff

"We all wonder that" the woman replied but looked at Clary just for a second before turning his attention towards the table were Jace and Magnus were charmingly throwing barbs at each other to the delight of the judges.

"I guess it's my fault for thinking that I could date a guy who uses more products in his hair than I do."  Clary continued causing an indignant splutter from Jace.

The blonde took advantage of a sly comment made by Magnus to wink at the judges and announce "Someone should defense me." The judges laughed unaware that the comment was not directed at them.

 Alec sighed longsuffering. "Jace would like me to inform you that everyone benefits from his hair keeping routine and that any insult towards his... golden halo, was it?" Jace made and affirmative sound perfectly disguised, once again, in his conversation with the marks. "should be considered treason. Also men have as much right to take care of their appearance as women do and that with a great physique comes a great responsibility."  he deadpanned "Did I forget anything?" he asked bored.

"Well Jace usually would have taken the time to apply at least seven flattering adjective to his hair and mentioned that it's a gift from god to us mere mortals but you good the gist of it" Izzy confirmed amused by her brothers' antics.

"I swear, he is so vain he calls his hair a golden halo. Who does that?" Clary complained with exaggerated exasperation. "And he is always getting in trouble, like it's so difficult to think before you act? God why on earth do I find cockiness attractive?" she lamented.

Jace cleared his throat and Izzy smiled picturing Alec rolling his eyes. "My brother would like to inform you that he's breaking up with you" Alec said dutifully before he feigned a yawn.

"I know, I always fall for the bad guys too" the woman informed Clary, smiling at her. "The last guy I was seeing tried to use me because I'm a police woman, can you believe it?" she drowned her drink in one go. "I dumped his sorry ass of course. But it was so fun while it lasted" she sighed. "But there's nothing the best cocktails of the city can't heal. And the people are not so bad here, either. I mean, have you seen those five in that table?" she pointed at the judges. "I mean two of them are way too young for me but damm, I wouldn't say no to them if I had a few less years, and the other three are not so bad in the eyes either."

"So she is not the agent we are looking for" Simon sighed disappointed.

"No, apparently not" Izzy agreed "Clary make your excuses and move towards someone else, we've wasted enough time already." but the girl ignored her and keep smiling at the police woman.

"Yeah, I think half the club has noticed them." she agreed with a laugh. "You wanna play a game?" she asked eyes alight like she just had an idea "I really need to distract myself"  the footage in front of Izzy showed that she was using her puppy eyes and her unsure smile, that woman had no chance.

And sure enough, "What kind of game?" the police woman asked turning slightly towards Clary.

"Let's see if we can find how many people have a crush on those five" Clary explained smiling playfully. "You know, who is looking at them for too long or trying to listen into them. And we can try to say who do we think they want to take home." the woman still seemed unsure so she pushed. "Come on, it'll be fun! And you said you are in the police right? You should be very good at this."

"Well played, Fray" Alec admitted entering the room and Izzy could hear the underlying pride in his voice. He took a seat on the couch by her side, his gaze fixed on all the footage except the one from Jace's tie's camera which offered a very close look at Magnus' face.

"Well, I may spoil my clients but I can't help it, it's the only way to win them over!" Magnus was saying in his argument with Jace causing the three judges to laugh

"Well, I guess that when you put your mind on it you can win over almost anyone, right?" Jace asked, his tone was teasing, reminding Isabelle of all the banter that those two used to engage on. Magnus face hardened and the camera moved when Jace tensed in response. "I meant…" he tried almost breaking character for a second.

"No no, you are right." Magnus laugh and Izzy moved closer to her brother recognizing Magnus petty expression. "Just yesterday I won over this beautiful blonde who was here celebrating she had just been accepted in a dance company in Moscow." he bragged with a smirk directed to the judges. His eyes were cold though and Alec pressed his lips together tight enough they turned white.

"Jace, don't break character." he warned stiffly before his brother could react defensively.

So Jace laughed along with the judges.  "I thought blondes weren't your type" he commented lightly and Izzy felt the need to hit him for dragging this conversation that was clearly upsetting their brother.

"Taste evolves, John" Magnus explained sickly sweet. "And nine moth are a long time, there are things I liked back then that I can't stand now. For example my coffee maker. You wouldn't be interested in it, right? Because I just bought a new one and I'm going to get rid of it anyway so it's either giving it to someone or throwing it to the garbage." he explained.

"That was low." Izzy frowned while Jace declined the offer icily. "I understand that he is mad but that was only meant to hurt you."

"He can do whatever he likes with his things, Izzy. And as far as he knows, I don't care enough about him that that would hurt me." Alec was looking at the floor, his face completely blank.

Isabelle sighed. "Clary keep talking to the police woman, you are doing great, Simon write down the description of the people Clary mentions, Jace keep stalling." she ordered, then she took of her ear piece and gestured Alec to do the same.

"We are in the middle of a job." his brother protested.

"And we have three people on the field and visual on the situation." argued the girl. "We're having this conversation Alec, I just thought you'd appreciate not having it with Clary and Simon hearing in."

"Fine" Alec grunted taking of his ear piece. "What are we talking about?" he asked with a bored expression.

Izzy rolled her eyes. "I don't know, how about you tell me what are you feeling for once? You can pretend all you want but we both know that Magnus talking about getting rid of the first thing you bought for his apartment has hurt you." Alec buffed and Izzy hit his head gently. "Come on, Alec! Talk to me, please" he begged using her best puppy eyes.

Her brother took one look at her expression and lost all resolve. "Fine" he sighed. "It hurts but not for the reasons you think" he told her. Izzy raised an inquiring eyebrow. "It's been nine month, Iz, and he has moved to another apartment. Maybe more than once. He shouldn't still have that machine, he should have abandoned it in our old place." he explained.

"But isn't it a good thing that he still has it?" Isabelle asked confused. "I mean, it's prove that he hasn't moved on."

"Yeah, it's prove that he is still hurting, that he has spend the last nine month hurting because of me." Alec told her.

Izzy rolled her eyes, again. "So you are basically angsting because the man you love is still hang up on you and has been unable to move on?" she asked with a bit of mockery. Her face softened when she saw the conflicted expression on his brother face. "No, you are angsting because you think you shouldn't feel happy that he still has your coffee maker but you do and that makes you feel guilty." she smiled. "Alec, it's okay to want the person you love to have feelings for you." she told him sweetly if a bit condescendingly.

"Even when it's clear that it pains him to have them?" her brother asked pointing angrily at the screens. "Even when he doesn't want to have them?"

"Yes, Alec, even then." Izzy reassured him. "Look if you ask me, this situation has been going for far too long. You need to talk to him."

"And I will" Alec promised her. "Once I know he is safe." he put on his earbud finishing the conversation.

Izzy sighed but imitated him. "Jace, do you think you can make Magnus go to the bar? So Clary can see which of her candidates are watching him and not the judges." she told him. "And Simon, I need you to take a picture of the people Clary points out, okay? We'll give them to Lydia to see if she can identify them."

"Roger that" Simon said. "I just have to take pictures of possible FBI agents, in the middle of the club, without being seen. No big." he babbled."And why does Raphael keeps looking at me. Do you think he suspects something?" Izzy snorted and took out her phone.

 

[To Raphael       22:42]

Please don't be mad at me. We really want to help Magnus.

 

On the screen she saw Raphael look at the screen of his phone scowling and pocketing it again without answering. She raised one eyebrow before typing another message

 

[To Raphael       22:43]

You know I can see you checking your phone and ignoring me, right? You really need better security, hire a hacker or something. I hear you're digging the whole nerd thing lately.

 

Predictable Raphael cursed when he saw the text and send a menacing glare towards the camera before striding out of the room. "Raphael is not a problem anymore, Simon. He is going to the security room to try to keep me out of their surveillance circuit. Jace."

"So I'm going to get us some more drinks, Scotch fine for everybody?" her brother asked."This round is on me."

"I'll come and help, carrying them." Magnus offered him, jumping at the change to talk to Jace alone.

Alec sighed. "This is not going to be pretty." he sat back physically preparing for a blow.

Once Jace and Magnus had asked for the drinks Magnus turned his back on the judges and his smile fell, leaving behind a completely blank face. "What are you playing at?" he asked staring directly into Jace's camera. The blonde tried to reply. "I'm not talking to you, I'm talking to Alec." Magnus interrupted making him flinch at the use of his nickname. "Alec," Magnus repeated and Isabelle wasn't sure whatever he was doing because he knew how much it hurt Alec to have him address him as such or because he was trying to remind himself that he wasn't talking with his Alexander, at least not with the man he had thought he was. "tell your siblings to back off" he ordered. "I don't need help, nor do I want it. Helping me now doesn't take back what you did." his eyes hardened "You managed that situation atrociously. I would've understood you choosing Izzy if you'd come to me but you used as change money without so much as a heads-up so you don't get to play the hero now." Izzy felt his brother flinch again.

"Actually he didn't." Jace protested, his voice as heated as Magnus's was cold. "If you'd just let us explain..."

"I have no interest of hearing your excuses, nor your brother's." Magnus cut him tersely. "And if you need to clear your conscience that badly I suggest you donate some thousands to an ONG but leave me the fuck alone. I don't want any of you in my life ever again." he declared before taking half the drinks and returning to the table.  

"Al..." Izzy tried but was interrupted by his brother.

"Don't" he said harshly. "Please, I don't really want to hear that fucking name right now." he explained still staring at Magnus.

"Everything is going to be fine." Jace promised softly before following Magnus back to the table. Alec just scoffed.

Suddenly their screens turned black. "Great" Izzy said. "Raphael has managed to kick us out of the circuit. Clary, Simon, tell me that we've got what we need."

"I think so, we've spotted six possible agents and have them all on camera." Simon explained. "Should I send them to you or wait until I come back to show them to you?"

"Send them to Clary and then erase them, I don't think Santiago is going to go through your phone but you can never be too careful." Alec answered. "And now back to work Lewis, we don't want you to get fired."

"Great job everyone." Izzy added, elbowing his brother. "Jace just make sure to convince them to not firm anything with Magnus yet but don't oversell it, we want them to choose him in the end" she reminded. "Alec you're monitoring this, right?" her brother nodded. "Perfect, then I think Clary and I can call it a night."

"Actually, I'm having fun here with Vargas, I'll see you all tomorrow though, maybe Jace can 'pick me up' so he can give me a ride back without it being suspicious?" she asked hopeful.

"Role-play, uh? Kinky." Isabelle said approvingly.

Over the comms she heard Jace coughing to masquerade a laugh but he seemed to be the only one to appreciate her comment. "Izzy!" Alec and Clary exclaimed together and much to her delight she could see Alec blushing.

"What? Clary is the one that suggested it." she defended herself. "Anyway, you two lovebirds please remember that my very sensitive and impressionable brother will be listening until you are out of the hotel for your safety so please don't traumatize him." and with that she kissed her grumpy brother's cheek and went to sleep. Once she was already in bed she realized she had an unread message.

[From Raphael                 22:45]

I am NOT digging the nerd, whoever told you that is a liar soon to be unemployed.

 

[To Raphael       23:08]

And why would you assume it was an employee?

 

[From Raphael                 23:10]

Because I'm perfectly aware that my social circle consist on them and people that don't speak to you anymore.

 

[To Raphael       23:11]

About that, would you check on Magnus, please? I don't think he's going to take seeing Jace again all that well.

 

[From Raphael                 23:11]

Really?

[From Raphael                 23:11]

You better tell him to never show his face around here again, then.

 

[To Raphael       23:12]

Come on, Raphael, you know us. We Lightwoods are a stubborn lot. And we will finish this job but I can promise you this: if once this job is done you and Magnus still don't want us around you won't have to see us never again.

 

[From Raphael                 23:13]

Perfect, tell your brothers to start packing. You'll be moving to Australia in less than a month. I'll miss you.

 

[To Raphael       23:13]

You won't have to because Magnus will not want us gone.

[To Raphael       23:14]

Now, don't you think you are distracting me. We were talking about your crush.

 

[From Raphael                 23:15]

I am not a teenager anymore. Consequently, I do not have crushes.

 

[To Raphael       23:15]

Who texts 'consequently'? You are so pretentious...

 

[From Raphael                 23:16]

I'm not.

 

[To Raphael       23:16]

Are too

 

[From Raphael                 23:16]

Am not

 

[To Raphael       23:17]

Are too

[To Raphael       23:17]

Shall I remind you I have three brothers? I can do this all night.

 

[From Raphael                 23:18]

I too have siblings but I'll be the mature adult, once again, and I'll stop this. Just so you know I am sighing in exasperation right now.

 

[To Raphael       23:19]

You are always sighing. Maybe you should stop, the new guy that *you* described as cute may belief you actually mean them.

 

[From Raphael                 23:20]

Good because I actually mean them! And I said he was cute in a nerdy insufferable way.

 

[To Raphael       23:20]

Which is more than you've said about anyone for as long as I remember. And don't pretend you don't love nerdy stuff too. I've seen your DVD collection.

 

[From Raphael                 23:21]

Those are for my siblings benefit.

 

[To Raphael       23:21]

Did you buy an exact replica of Finn's jacket for their benefit too?

 

[From Raphael                 23:22]

               [From Raphael                 23:22]

It's technically Poe's.

[To Raphael       23:23]

Whatever, you nerd.

 

[From Raphael                 23:24]

Shut up.

[From Raphael                 23:25]

But it is a cool jacket. Maybe I'll wear it tomorrow, I do have a free morning.

 

[To Raphael       23:25]

Don't change it later when you go to work. I'm sure your new employee will appreciate it.

 

[From Raphael                 23:26]

I don't care.

 

[To Raphael       23:27]

So you don't know whatever he is into guys, then?

 

[From Raphael                 23:27]

He is pansexual, apparently.

 

[To Raphael       23:28]

You know it's illegal to ask that in a job interview. I'm disappointed in you, Santiago.

 

[From Raphael                 23:28]

I didn't ask him. Much less during the interview!

[From Raphael                 23:28]

He mentioned it when I was explaining him the LGTBQA+ friendly policy. He really doesn't have a filter.

 

[To Raphael       23:30]

And I'm sure that you, as someone with a filter, have not answer that by telling him that you are asexual panromantic.

 

[From Raphael                 23:31]

...

[From Raphael                 23:31]

I'm admitting nothing.

 

[To Raphael       23:32]

You're admitting everything.

 

[From Raphael                 23:35]

Why do we never talk about your love life?

 

[To Raphael       23:36]

What love life?

[To Raphael       23:36]

I'm free as a bird.

[To Raphael       23:36]

No prospects in sight.

 

[From Raphael                 23:37]

Well, for what I've gathered you'll be working with Lydia for this job, right?

 

[To Raphael       23:38]

You know Alec's the one that works with her, usually.

 

[From Raphael                 23:38]

I don't see why that should stop you from asking her out.

 

[To Raphael       23:40]

That's not what's stopping me.

 

[From Raphael                 23:40]

Then what? It's not like you to be pinning after someone.

 

[To Raphael       23:41]

I know, but she isn't ready for a relationship, yet. It's too soon.

 

[From Raphael                 23:41]

It's been three years.

 

[To Raphael       23:42]

And yet it's still too soon. Look she hasn't worn her engagement ring for the last two months now so I hope she'll be ready to move on soon. But until then I'm happy to be her friend. Isabelle Lightwood is no one's rebound.

 

[From Raphael                 23:44]

Well, far be it for me to encourage this Electra's syndrome of yours.

 

[To Raphael       23:45]

I know you are just kidding but stop, it is NOT funny. Lyds is not that much like Alec and I'm not projecting incestuous feelings. Eewwww. Just, eewwww. And it doesn't work anyway because Alec is not actually my father.

 

[From Raphael                 23:45]

Here's hoping Lydia is really not like your brother when it comes to romantic relationships. Because you definitely deserve better.

[From Raphael                 23:50]

I should go make sure Magnus doesn't drink every drop of alcohol I have in my club.

 

[To Raphael       23:51]

You do that. Tell him we're sorry for barging in back to his life without a warning, will you?

 

[From Raphael                 23:51]

I won't.

Isabelle sighed sadly and turned off the light.

 

Chapter Text

Lydia looked up to the building that contained the Lightwoods' apartment and smiled. She had missed them so much she was almost glad the feds had decided to try to catch Magnus again. Hell, if this ended up making Alec and Magnus talk and patch things up she would send the Bureau flowers. Alec had been miserable for the last few months and really, meeting for coffee with someone who just glares at the table every time you asked them how they are is not all that fun. Especially because if someone deserved to be happy it was Alec. And it was always so exhilarating to stop her routine to help the Lightwoods in their crazy missions. Of course it didn't hurt that it gave her an excuse to see Isabelle either. So yeah, Lydia was officially glad that a federal agency was investigating one of her closers friends. Ups.

She knocked the door and a red-haired girl opened it almost instantly. "Hi" she said with a smile. "You must be Lydia, right? I'm Clary" her smile was friendly and Lydia found herself returning it.

"Yes, Alec's told me of you and Simon, right?" she said smiling at the boy next to her. "Pleasure to meet you." Alec chose that moment to enter the room and he smiled at her but Lydia could see how tired he was. She wanted to ask him when had the last time he had sleep been but the rigid, determinate set of his shoulder told her she wouldn't accomplish anything but a fight and she knew Izzy and Jace wouldn't let it get too bad.

"Thank you for coming" Alec hugged her briefly to the surprise of the other two. "I see you've met the nuisances my siblings have decided to adopt." he teased causing Simon to splutter in indignation.

"You have only yourself to blame, I told you that you should have let them get a dog. Two weeks of having to walk and feed it and they would have either learn responsibility or stop bugging you about it." reminded him Lydia.

"Like that would have stopped them from picking up every stray they found on the street." buffed Alec. "I need to start saying no to them."

"Yeah, that's likely." Isabelle interrupted in a sarcastic tone. "Hi Lydia, it's wonderful to see you." she hugged Lydia too, for longer that Alec had, not that Lydia was complaining, of course.

"So where's Jace?" Lydia asked looking around. "Didn't he want to see me?" she teased.

"One of our marks invited him to play golf so he had to leave before you arrived." explained Izzy. "He was heartbroken, of course, and made me promise that I'd force you to stay for dinner."

"Well, if you promised Jace I suppose I'll have to." Lydia agreed smiling.

"Good because otherwise I was ready to use whatever method necessary to keep you here." said Isabelle flirtingly winking at her and Lydia felt her face blush.

"Anyway..." interrupted Alec rolling his eyes at them. “I'll see you later, then. I have to go make sure Jace doesn't say anything stupid or gets kidnapped. Again." he sighed in exasperation. "I'm leaving you to babysit the newbies, Izzy spoils them way too much." he ignored Clary's and Simon's protest completely and left the house.

Lydia smiled at Isabelle "He looks better, I thought this job was going to wreck him."

"It still might" answered Izzy "But seeing Magnus has done him good, even if they are not exactly in the best of terms."

"Well, I'm glad. Maybe he'll do something more than sigh nostalgically next time we go for coffee." Lydia teased. "Never thought I'd miss the days in which he rambled and rambled about how amazing Magnus without letting anyone else get a word in between."

"Alec? Rambling?" Simon interrupted; he looked at Clare who looked just as dumbfounded as him. "You sure we are talking about the same person?"

Lydia and Izzy laughed "You'd be surprise what being in love can do to that boy. Especially when nudged along with some wine." Lydia winked at Izzy. "Remember that time we got him drunk and took him to the karaoke?"

Izzy smiled mischievously. "Which time?" she asked making Lydia laugh. "But if you though Alec was bad, prepare yourself, Jace is attempting poetry" she whispered in Lydia's ear low enough that Clary and Simon, who were still looking at them wide-eyed, couldn't hear it. "God knows that there are only so many words that mean red."

"Tell me you have a copy I can read" begged Lydia between giggle.

"Better yet, I know where he keeps his notebook: under the bed. He is so unoriginal, especially for a thief." Izzy sighed defeated. "But enough chit chat" she winked at the bond "We have several pictures of possible agents, can you helps us get a name, please?"

Lydia nodded "And with any luck a connection with one of the judges, yes." she gestured at the table where Simon and Clary were whispering to each other and the two girl sat. Simon's attention turned immediately towards Lydia, a million questions dancing in his eyes. The girl raised an eyebrow curious.

"So what are you?" Simon asked looking at her expecting. "Grifter? Hacker? You look like a hacker."

"I'm the District Attorney of New York city" Lydia answered without lifting her eyes from the papers.

"Yeah, right" snorted Simon laughing. He turned towards Isabelle in order to share the joke but she only nodded with an amused expression towards Lydia. "Wait? You are?! Really?!?" Lydia looked at him nodding slowly. "Then why are you helping us?"

Lydia sighed sharing a look with Isabelle. "You don't have to tell him if you don't want to." the latter reassured her. Lydia just smiled and shook her head.

"It's okay" she smiled calmly and she turned towards Simon and Clary who sat straighter when they saw the serious look on the two girls' faces. "Three years ago I was prosecuting this mobster, he was a very, very bad man and made several threats to me and to the witness. I didn't take him seriously; I was young and reckless and told him that there was nothing he could do to stop me from sending him to prison for a very long time. I looked him in the eyes and dared him to do his worse." her voice trembled a bit but she didn't stop. "And he did. He informed the witnesses that if they attempted to testify against him they would suffer the same fate than I and he..." she stopped trying to compose herself, her eyes shining suspiciously and Izzy placed her arm comforting around the blonde's shoulders.

"Did he try to hurt you?" Clary asked unsubtly checking her out looking for any scar or mark that could tell her what had happened.

"Oh, he succeeded, he utterly destroyed me and all without even laying a finger on me." she explained with a painted laugh. "You see, I was engaged to a man called John, John Monteverde. He was a florist and he was kind, and funny and smart. I loved him more than life." Clary and Simon exchanged a horrified look, clearly having understood where this story was going. "One day I arrived home and I found my door open, my floor covered in blood and my fiancé beheaded and mutilated. His dead was not a quick, painless one, those bastards made sure of that." and to hear such hatred from someone as lovely as Lydia was actually quite terrifying. She breathed deeply again "My witness refused to testify, I was taken out of the case because I was too close to it and that monster walked away." she grasped Izzy's hand still in her shoulder, trying to get strength to go on. "I've always believed in justice, since I was a little girl, but that day I only wanted revenge, I wanted that man to suffer like I had suffered so I asked for time off work, bought a gun and started planning."

"Wow she's scary." Simon whispered to Clary loud enough for both Izzy and Lydia to hear it. The former send him a poisonous look but Lydia just chuckled.

"I was more than just scary I can assure you. The pain drove me a bit insane and well, my coping mechanism is basically drowning myself in work but I felt that it had betrayed me by allowing that man to get away with John's murder so I didn't know how to handle it." she explained. Then she smiled to the other three. "Luckily, Alec found me before I could wreck what was left of my life irremediably."

Isabelle saw that the blonde could use a moment so she continued the story. "We were targeting that organization too. They had just acquired a rather famous painting we didn't feel they deserved. Jace had managed to become friends with the man and was doing recon: looking which kind of security they had, how large was their collection, deciding which paintings we were going to take... All that jazz. I was infiltrating their security system and Alec was monitoring everything like the control freak he is." Lydia elbowed her gently for this remark. "He is a control freak, and so are you to be honest. “Izzy defended causing Lydia to roll her eyes. "Anyway, Alec noticed that one of the security members was acting rather oddly and decided to investigate her."

Clary interrupted Izzy before she could continue. "I thought you said that he had seen your face? How could you be working for him?" she asked.

Lydia's laugh was dry. "Men like that don't look at their employees, Clary, especially not if they're woman. Well, at least not when those women are lucky." she amended. "And I made sure to go always with my hair dirty, bad stylized and with no make-up, not that woman need make-up to be attractive but you get what I'm saying. I made myself as unattractive as possible ad he didn't look at me twice. Sexist pig." she muttered. She saw the other three exchange a glance. "What?"

"Kind of difficult to imagine you being unattractive." Simon explained and Lydia blushed when both Clary and Izzy nodded.

"Well, anyway..." Lydia cleared her throat still flustered while Isabelle tried to hide a smile. "Alec confronted me and I tried to deny what I was doing but he had done his homework and knew exactly who I was so I ended up explaining him everything."

Izzy cleared her throat offended. "I did that homework! Alec wouldn't know how to even start the facial recognition software, much less hack into the government employee's database." she pointed out, arms crossed.

"Sorry, you're right; Isabelle had done her homework so the Lightwoods knew exactly who I was." Lydia corrected humoring Izzy who nodded satisfied. "Of course, I didn't even know of the existence of the Lightwoods. Even after I teamed with Alec he only told me he had a crew working on it. But never made any move to introduce me to any of them."

Izzy rolled her eyes "You know my brother, he is protective" she pointed out. "And to be fair, you are a DA, Lyds, can't really blame him for being cautious, can you?"

Clary snorted. "The fact that he even talked to you surprises me."

"Well, they had Jace undercover but he was posing as a rich friend of that bastard, so he didn't have access to a lot of places that I, as part of the security staff, did. They needed me" Lydia explained.

The brunette on her side pouted. "We would have managed without you" she protested. "We are the best, after all." at Lydia raised eyebrow she deflated. "But I'll admit that having you on board made it far easier."

"Fair enough" Lydia smiled to Izzy. Simon cleared his throat, wanting her to continue her story "So Alec told me they were planning a heist and offered me a cut if I helped. I answered that I only wanted them to get me alone with that man." Lydia's face was looking murderous again. "He agreed but when the time came and I was holding the man at gunpoint he explained to me that they had found enough prove in that man's computer to convict him for life and that all that information was already in hands of the police. Alec then informed me that if I really wanted to take my revenge anyway he'd help me get rid of the body" she ended with a tiny smile.

"But he didn't have to, right?" Simon asked looking at the blonde a bit terrified.

Lydia shook her head. "No, in the end I still believed in justice, though maybe not the same one that before, the one that answered to the Law and was absolute. I trusted the system to punish that man and lowered my gun."

"And you were right" Izzy reminded her with a smile. "That bastard will never see the sun again, he's been locked away and they have thrown the key."

The two girls smiled at each other until Clary interrupted them. "So when did you met the rest of the Lightwoods?" she asked.

"Several month later" Lydia told her. "Alec and I really hit it off from the start and we realized that we worked well together. And well, we knew that we could send each other to prison but not without us both ending there so we trusted each other not to go to the police." she shrugged. "We had spent months meeting in the same coffee shop every Friday at the same time while planning and we just didn't stop once the job was done. The first few times after that we started talking about whatever we had left any clues behind and about how the police investigation was going but we always ended up talking about books and movies and everything else."

"Jace and I were thrilled of course." Izzy told them. "Pretty sure you were the first friend he made on his own." she teased.

"I think that was Jace" corrected Lydia but she seemed pleased.

Simon wasn't though. "That's how you won over his trust? With small talk about books?" he asked. "Because I've spend month talking to him about Star Wars and he just thinks I'm a nerd! Maybe I should have talked to him about the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy instead?" he asked thoughtfully.

The other three laughed. "No, he still didn't trust me, to the point I didn't even know he had siblings." soothed Lydia. "But he did tell me his last name and a couple of month after that I was back at work and the agents I was prepping for my case were talking to each other about how they were about to catch the Lightwoods so I called Alec to give him the heads-up. Next Friday there were three people in our table waiting for me with my coffee order."

She smiled at Izzy who smiled back. "And you haven't been able to get rid of us since." she proclaimed proudly. "But yeah, that's the reason she is helping us out."

"That and because Alec's level of pinning is setting new alarming records" the girl corrected. "So we better solve this quickly. Show me the photographs." she asked and Clary complied instantly.

"Here" she gave her the blow-ups they had printed. "And I don't know if this will help but I also draw them." she explained, a bit unsure. "I mean I know that the camera is far more reliable but I saw them from different angles and I was itching to draw anyway."

Lydia look at the drawings stacked behind the photos. "Wow, you are really talented."

"Isn't she?" Izzy beamed proudly making Clary blush. "We are thinking about training her to do forgeries." she explained proudly.

"If you do please don't sign them." Lydia begged. "I know they are a point of pride for you artists but really, it's just stupid and begging to be caught." she paused looking to a picture. "This one is Aldertree." she pointed out a man sitting in the stool sipping his drink. "I worked with him before, he is FBI, used to be a doctor before he changed fields. He is smart but I don't like his methods, nothing I can prove but I heard rumors he likes to be... innovative when he has to do interrogations." she scrunched her nose in distaste.

Izzy was already typing in her computer. "First name?" she asked without lifting her head.

"Victor." Lydia answered. "Be careful, okay, I don't know much about him but he isn't the kind of men to accept defeat easily."

"We will.” Izzy reassured her. "Give me five minutes and you'll have everything you need to know about him."

The door of the apartment suddenly opened letting in the Lightwoods brothers. "Where's my favorite attorney?" Jace asked teasingly. Lydia stood up to hug him. When they let go of each other Lydia saw a hint of jealousy on Clary's face.

"Your girlfriend is extremely talented." she informed Jace smiling to the girl. "Really, I think she could do better."

"We all think that." Simon agreed winking at Jace who glared at him in mock offense. "But well, Clary's an adult, she is entitled to her own mistakes." he sighed.

Alec snorted at that and Jace looked at him with an expression of utter betrayal. "Simon has been working at the DuMort." Isabelle redirected the conversation taking pity on her blonde brother.

Lydia looked at him interested. "Really? How's Raphael?" she asked and to her surprise both Lightwood boys groaned while their sister just snorted.

"Raphael? He is fine I guess, I mean he is doing okay. Well I think so, hard to tell given that he is always scowling." Simon started to ramble. "He is so lucky the mysterious dark look works so well on him. Must be because of the jackets." he decided, blushing slightly. "I think I've never seen him wear the same jacket twice, though that's not that impressing given I just been working there for a week, I suppose. But I spilled a drink all over myself the other day and he made me change to look presentable so he showed me his closet and I swear the guy has more jackets than Izzy has shoes. He even have Poe's jacket! He didn't let me wear that one though, he said it wasn't appropriate for work and threw a ‘serious’ one at me." he pouted indignant.

Lydia's eyebrows had risen as high as they could. "I'm happy he is okay." she said slowly, causing Simon to blush harder.

"Yeah, yeah" Clary interrupted taking pity on Simons and grabbing his arm. "Simon and I have to go meet Luke, we’ll be back later.” She informed them dragging a very embarrassed Simon out of the room.

Lydia watched them go amused. "Raphael let him wear his jacket?" she exclaimed incredulous once they were out of sight.

"I know!" Isabelle answered delighted. "It's like a High School romance." she sighed.

"As interesting as Simon's love life is I would like to know if we have a name." Alec deadpanned.

Both girls rolled their eyes at him. "Yes, Alec, we do have a name." admitted Lydia. "Victor Aldertree, and Izzy has already started to work her magic." she pointed the computer in the brunette's hands with her head. "Now, how was golfing?" she asked Jace.

"Horrible" he whined. "What's the point of a sport that doesn't have defense?"

"Jace is just mad he lost spectacularly against Magnus." Alec smiled. "He's always been fantastic at aiming games."

"Yes, yes, we all know that the way to your heart is by hustling you at pool." Jace pouted. "Still think it was mean of him to humiliate me like that."

"At least Clary wasn't there to see it" tried to cheer him up Lydia. "Just remember not to arrange a bowling double date with them. They'd destroy you." Jace laugh but Alec's face lost all humor and left the room.

The other three looked at each other. "We made contact with Magnus a couple of days ago." explained Izzy "he only met with Jace but threw a few barbs addressed at Alec and their relationship. Pretty sure Alec doesn't think there will be any dates in the future, even if we explain to Magnus what really happened."

"Yes, today hasn't been much better. Magnus has spent every minute he wasn’t destroying me at golf flirting with every blonde and redhead in the place." he sighed.

Lydia nodded. "I'll go see if he's okay. Better he snaps at me, I'm not part of the con."

It wasn't difficult to find Alec, he was in the training room, using a punching back to release his frustrations. He didn't stop when Lydia entered the room. "Well, I know what I am getting you for Christmas, at the rhythm you're going you'll be out of punching backs by Friday." she teased.

"Shouldn't you be helping Izzy get info on the fed?" Alec bite.

"Please, we both know your sister could do that blindfolded." she snorted. "So, just out of curiosity, are you picturing Hodge or the people Magnus was flirting with today?" she asked pointing at the bag.

"Magnus can flirt with whoever he wants." Alec grunted throwing a rather vicious punch. "He is single and I have no right to be jealous."

"Yeah, because jealousy is so rational you need to be entitled to in in order to feel it." Lydia rolled her eyes. "You didn't answer Alec, who are you picturing?"

Alec scowled at her "Does it matter?"

"It does if it's you." Lydia told him. "It does when you are hurting yourself." she said looking pointedly at Alec's bleeding knuckles.

"Leave me alone, Lydia." Alec grunted.

"No"

"What do you want from me?!" he shouted turning around to face her.

Lydia raised an eyebrow. "You've spend three years convincing me that John wasn't my fault. Do you really think I'm going to let you keep punishing yourself for something you had no control over?"

"It's not the same."

"No, it's not, Magnus is still alive."

There was a minute of silence, both looking at each other without backing down. Lydia was the first to break the silence. "Magnus may be hurting. He may be mad. Hell, maybe he hates you. But he is breathing." she told Alec. "That means that you have a change to try to make things right. Maybe you'll manage, maybe you won't, but you have to try. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to him. Alec, just be thankful that you still get to see him." she breathed in. “And you are alive too and that means you get to have emotions. It's okay to be jealous he's flirting with other people even when you know they don't mean anything to him and that you have no claim over him. It's okay to miss him. And it's okay to feel hurt he didn't let you explain even if you understand his reasoning."

"What if too much shit has happened?" Alec asked and he actually sounded afraid. "I still love him and I think he still have feelings for me. I hope. But there is no trust between us, not anymore." he shook his head "We used to talk about everything, Lyds, we used to feel safe with the other. But how can we talk if we don't trust each other? How can we feel safe after having been hurt like we have?"

"That's the thing about trust, Alec, you can lose it and you can win it. I'm not saying it will all magically go back to the way it was the minute he learns what happened. It won't. It's going to take time and talks and fights. But it's you and Magnus so isn't it worth it?" Lydia asked. 

"He is worth anything." Alec smiled timidly.

Lydia laughed. "Of course he is. And he deserves to be happy. You deserve to be happy."

"And so do you." Alec told her. "I noticed you stopped wearing your engagement ring." he pointed out and Lydia allowed him to change the subject.

"I was ready." she shrugged. "I won't ever forget John, part of me will love him forever but it's time to move one. It's what he would have wanted. And more importantly it's what I want." she smiled.

"Well, I'm happy for you." Alec nudged her shoulder. "Anyone in particular catching your eye?" he asked tauntingly with a knowing smile.

Lydia blushed "Well, there's this girl..." she admitted.

"Really smart? Complete badass? A bit noisy? Loyal to death?" Alec asked his smile growing.

"Yes, yes, it's called being involved in your siblings’ life and yes" Lydia sighed. "You are not going to give me the shovel talk are you?"

"Of course not. I trust Izzy. And I trust you." Alec told her. "Jace will though, he thinks it's his duty." he smiled fondly rolling his eyes. "Just don't break each other's hearts, okay? I don't want to see either of you upset."

"I haven't even asked her out yet." Lydia protested. "I don't even know if she'll say yes."

Alec snorted. "Trust me, she will." he winked at her.

They heard steps coming quickly towards them and the doors burst open to let Jace and Isabelle in. "Iz has found a clue!"  Jace told them looking proudly at his sister.

"Well, out of every case Aldertree has closed that involved an informant, eighty percent involved members of an exclusive club named Destiny." Alec and Lydia rolled her eyes together, "I know, it's rather tacky. Anyway only one of our judges is a member of that club."

"Which one?" Alec asked impatiently.

"Carrington"

Chapter Text

Simon was grateful for his job, he really was. It wasn’t only a way to help the Lightwoods in their movie-like drama but also a great experience if he ever actually wanted to make a living of accounting. The people were nice, the place was amazing and, well, seeing Raphael was always a bonus. It was hard to remember that in the morning, though, especially when he could hear Jace snoring while he made his way to the kitchen.

“Here” someone said and suddenly the heavenly aroma of coffee overtook him. He looked at the cup being hold in front of him and then raised his eyes to see his savior. It wasn’t really a surprise to see Isabelle. She really was an angel fallen to earth.

“Thanks” he muttered taking the cup, he took a moment to deliberate whatever making coffee counted as cooking before deciding that fuck it, as long as it had caffeine he didn’t mind being poisoned. “What are you doing awake?” He asked taking a gulp of his thankfully quite decent coffee.

“Trying to get in contact with Raphael.” She admitted. “He hasn’t talked to me since the morning after Jace met with Magnus. Apparently Magnus took us trying to help him even worse than Raphael was expecting so until we don’t back off he’s blocked me everywhere.”

“I’m sorry”

Izzy plastered a smile. “That’s okay, he’ll forgive me once we explain.” She said optimistically. “I’m just a bit worried because I still haven’t told him about Aldertree and if there’s a fed on his hotel he should know it.”

“I could tell him.” Simon offered.

“No, you really can’t. Not without telling him that you’re with us and getting thrown out.” Isabelle smiled shaking her head. “That’s okay, Jace will tell them tonight.”

Simon nodded, what could go wrong in a day?

He should have known better than to think that question.

 

Several hours later a fairly more awake Simon was checking the accounts and bored out of his mind when someone sat next to him. He smiled expecting Raphael who seemed to not trust Simon to do anything more complicated than a cup of coffee if his amount of micromanaging was to be believed. He yelped when he saw Magnus. "Hi, Magnus" he managed and the steady rhythm of Alec's breathing in his ear that had accompanied him all afternoon stopped.

"How are you?" smiled Magnus and Simon was really glad he wasn't wearing a camera because he looked like a mess. "Do you mind if I sit here for a while?" he asked.

"No, of course not" Simon said and winced, couldn't he have just said he was busy and needed to concentrate? Now he was stuck in the most awkward situation of his life with someone that didn't even realize the situation was uncomfortable at all.

Simon kept working, for the first time of his life not knowing what to say. He wanted to ask Magnus if he was okay, comment on the bags under his eyes but he couldn't because then Alec would hear it and Simon really didn't want to deal with that. Especially since Izzy, Jace and Clary where resting at the moment leaving the two of them alone in the comms.

"And Raphael says he can't get you to shut up." commented Magnus.

Simon jumped. "Sorry, I can talk. What do you want to talk about? Star Wars? Have you seen the new movie?" he asked.

Magnus rolled his eyes. "No, I have not. Raphael tried to drag me to it but I managed to escape."

"Raphael likes Star Wars?" that was really interesting.

"Oh yeah, he's been counting the days until the next one is out." Magnus told him. "Can't go to the premiere because is in Christmas Day and Guadalupe would be upset if her oldest precious boy wasn't home for it but I bet you anything he'll buy tickets for the very next day."

"See I don't have that problem, perks of being Jewish!" Simon laughed.  "What do you like then?" he asked, TV conversation should be a safe topic, right?

"I used to watch project runway but I don't anymore" he said tone almost wistfully. "and I'm kind of addicted to Master Chef right now but I haven't had the time to watch a lot of series lately."

"You do seem the type to enjoy Project Runway." Simon commented looking appreciatively at his clothes. "Why did you stop?" the grunt that came through his earbud told Simon that he had messed up.

Magnus face closed a bit. "I used to watch it with my boyfriend and his brother. The break up was not amicable" he explained.

Did that meant that Jace and Alec liked project Runway? Simon stopped himself from bursting out that question just in time. "Sorry to hear that" he said.

"That's okay" Magnus told him "it was months ago."

"Do you miss him?" Simon asked in a whim.

"Simon stop" Alec told him immediately "he doesn't know I'm listening, this is wrong"

"Every day" Magnus confessed and Alec's protest died instantly. "Or well, I miss who I thought he was." he added. "He did some pretty messed up thing and I can't forgive him for that. But I understand why he would choose his family over me, he always put it first, it was something I loved about him. I suppose I just thought that I was included in it."

"Magnus"  Alec whispered and Simon felt awful for having asked anything in the first place.

Magnus misinterpreted Simon conflicted expression because he stood up smiling winningly at him and winked. "But you are not here to listen to my drama, are you? I'll leave you to your work." and he was gone before Simon could even answer him.

"You overstepped." Alec told him, and his calm low voice was far more terrifying than yelling would have been.

"I know" Simon admitted.

 

Simon was extremely relieved when Jace arrived at the hotel because it meant that everyone was wearing their comms. The hours he had spend with Alec angry breathing in his ear had been the most terrifying in his life. And he was including the day he had spent kidnapped by Valentine. All in all his day had been terrible and he couldn't wait for it to finish. He threw a glance towards Raphael's office, hoping he'd come out of it and was rewarded with the sight of his boss, looking dashing in his suit, opening the door for a man as equally well dressed. A man Simon recognized.

 “Why is Raphael inviting that man into his office?” Simon asked Lily frantically.

Lily sighed “Because he is a client” she answered dragging her words. “the kind of client you are still not supposed to ask about.”

Simon face lost all his color.

"Tell me that man is not Aldertree." Alec demanded. "We've lost visual of him."

Simon silence was all the answer they needed.

Oh god” He heard Izzy on the earbud. “Magnus is not his target.”

“Pretty sure he is, at least the main one. Aldertree just saw the opportunity to take down the DuMort too and ran with it.” Jace explanation was not reassuring.

“I need to go to the bathroom.” Simon told Lily who was looking at him worryingly. “Be back in a sec.”

Simon what are you doing?” asked Alec harshly. “Don’t blow up your cover.”

“It’s either my cover or Raphael in prison.” Protested Simon heading straight to his boss office “He is going to hate me, isn’t he?” he sighed

Maybe” Izzy admitted honestly. “He doesn’t like being lied to

Just tell him the truth and everything he wants to know.” Alec told him almost kindly. “And blame it all on me, it’s not like he doesn’t hate me already.”

Simon took a deep breath and opened the doors of Raphael office. Inside Aldertree was sitting in the same chair Magnus had been when Simon had met him and Raphael was looking at him quite angrily.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “I’m pretty sure I told you not to bother me until I was done with this client.”

“It’s just... Hmm..." Simon didn't know where to behind without letting Aldertree know the Lightwoods were onto him. "I was talking with some other employees and they told me that this man is not a client we want to take.” Simon decided to say. Now both men were glaring at him and he proceeded before either could talk. “Lydia and Izzy are of the opinion that he wants a service we don’t offer here.” He added. The names didn’t seem to mean anything to Aldertree but Raphael froze, looking at Simon with astonishment and fury.

“You heard my accountable. We cannot provide the services you desire." Raphael told Aldertree signaling the door his livid gaze never leaving Simon. "I have some internal affairs in need of solving so if you'd be so kind as to leave..."

Aldertree looked torn between confused and enraged, he got up to leave looking Simon with hatred but clearly understanding from Raphael's tone that he wouldn't accomplish anything at that moment. Simon didn't even notice him leave too busy maintaining eye contact sheepishly with Raphael. He did hear the door close and shivered, for once not happy to be alone in a room with Raphael.

"Who are you?" He asked and the worst was that beneath the snarl and aggressivity of his tone, Simon could hear the betrayal.

"Simon... Simon Lewis" answered quickly the guy.  "And I have graduated recently and have worked for Luke, everything I told you was true. I just omitted certain facts."

"Like you working for the Lightwoods?" Raphael didn't seem any less angry with his explanation.

"Yes" Simon admitted. "I told you my best friend is Luke's daughter and that's true in every way that matters but a DNA test would tell you otherwise." he explained.

"Screw DNA" he heard Clary mutter and he couldn't help but chuckle, Raphael's eyes widened.

"Take out the earbud, now" he ordered interrupting Simon's story, the younger man obeyed and handled it over to him.

Raphael threw it to the floor and stepped on it, wrecking it. "You do know they have an off button, right?" Simon asked horrified. "Come on man, that's microtechnology I don't even know how much it cost! Do you have to be so extra?"

The other man rolled his eyes. "You were telling me about your best friend" he reminded him quiet impatiently.

"Oh, right! Well so Clary decided to find her biological father and he ended up being a total jackass, and a bit psychotic actually, so when the Lightwoods asked us to help them bring him down we said yes. Then she felt in love with Jace, don't ask me why, and him and Izzy decided to take us in so we are trying this whole crime life style now." Simon ended.

"Luke's been raising Morgenstern daughter?" Raphael asked and when Simon looked at him surprised he explained. "When you take down someone like Valentine Morgenstern word spreads, I was wondering how they managed that, inside help answers my questions. After all betrayal is the Lightwoods' style."

"That's not entirely accurate." Simon said. "I mean if you are referring to Magnus and Alec, that's it."

"And what would you know about that?" Raphael asked his fury returning.

"Just the Lightwoods side" Simon replied. Raphael raised his eyebrow, daring him to proceed and Simon breathed in, Alec was either going to kill him or hug him for this and he didn't know which option was more terrifying."So there was this guy, Hodge something"

"Starkweather?" asked Raphael. "No one has seen him in years."

"Yes him. Jace and Alec went to him for help to free Izzy. He is the one that made the deal with the feds while keeping Jace and Alec distracted. He has immunity now" he explained.

"Really? That's all they've got? They blame a guy who's been missing for years and we are supposed to believe them?" the older man laughed unkindly.

"Yes, because this is Alec Lightwood we're talking about. You've known him for longer than I have, so if you think that making that kind of decision and then shy away from the consequences is his style I'll believe you but as far as I've seen he is the most consequent guy I've ever met. I could see him doing a lot of unethical things if it was for Jace or Izzy but I'm pretty sure he'd own up to them and even seek punishment for them." Simon said and there was doubt in Raphael's face.

"He was always the kind of guy to stick a hundred percent to a decision once he made it. I thought once he had chosen Izzy over Magnus he'd leave him alone forever." Raphael allowed. "Then again, I was starting to trust you so maybe I'm not the best judge of character." and Simon would have rather Raphael had just punched him.

"There has to be a way to prove it." he pleaded, it had cost him Raphael's hesitant friendship so at the very least Alec and Magnus should end up marrying.

"Maybe there is." Raphael eyes shone "There is a reason Magnus chose these judges after all."

He then proceeded to stroll out of the room with Simon following after him confused. They arrived at the club and Raphael made a beeline to the table where, once again, Jace and Magnus were drinking with the judges. Simon approached Clary who was at the closest table listening in their conversation. "So how much are they freaking out?" he asked pointing at her ear.

"Do you remember mom and Luke at the Santa Claus debacle of 2002?" Clary asked and Simon gulped.

They both fixed their gazes at the other table where Raphael was taking a seat beside Magnus "I hope you are enjoying your stay at DuMort" he told the judges with a charming smile.

"We always do, Santiago." answered Carrington. "We wouldn't come here so often if we didn't." the owner accepted the compliment with a gracious smile.

"Mr. Locke may I ask you a question regarding one of your old cases?" Raphael asked casually and the judge made a surprised sound. He wasn't the only one, Magnus was trying to get his friend attention to ask what the hell was he doing and Jace was alternating between looking at him with curiosity and wincing from what Simon could only deduce was Alec shouting at his ear.

"Well, technically I'm not allowed to say anything but we are all friends here, right?" the judge laughed.

Raphael charming smile was back and he leaned in, lowering his voice. "An old friend of mine, Hodge Starkweather, got an immunity deal some months ago and then disappeared. I've been trying to get in contact with him but there hasn't been any luck." Jace perked up, a smile forming in his mouth which only confused Magnus more.

"Alec wants Jace to stop him so Magnus doesn't blow his cover." related Clary to Simon who had his head pressed against Clary's trying to listen into the comms. "Doubt he will though, Izzy is threatening him with shaved eyebrows if he does." Simon snorted catching Jace casually touching the endangered hair.

"You won't find him, he is on witness protection." Locke was saying, interesting the other judges.

"Wow, who did he rat out? The mafia?" Smythe asked laughing a bit, and it may have just been Simon's imagination but Carrington looked a bit uncomfortable with the topic of informants.                                                    

"No, just a thief, what was his name? It was the one that stole that Monet last year. And the Faberge egg two years ago." Locke answered and that did get Magnus attention he narrowed his eyes, unable to decide between fixing them on Jace or on Raphael.

"The High Warlock" Jace answered, his body language was relaxed but there was a bit of anticipation on his voice. Magnus appeared completely uninterested checking his nails nonchalantly but his lips were press tight together. "I'm kind of a fan" Jace shrugged unapologetically when the others looked at him throwing a shy smile at Magnus.

"Yeah that one, I think Starkweather used some former protégées of his to get to him." Continued the story Locke clearly enjoying being the center of attention.

"And y... the protégées didn't know?" Magnus was looking straight into Jace's eyes his face more vulnerable Simon had ever seen it.

"No" Jace said categorically and when everyone else turned to look at him he smiled eagerly at Locke. "Right, Your Honor? They had no idea." he prompted him to follow his story.

"No they didn't. Those stupid blokes had actually refused an offer of immunity for themselves and one of their own that we had in custody, can you imagine? The regret they must have felt!" he laughed and Simon was convinced for a moment that Jace was going to slide his throat.

Magnus got up abruptly. "Excuse me gentlemen, I'm not feeling well. Do you mind if I retire early tonight?" he said but was already making his way out not giving them time to stop him. Raphael and Jace shared a look followed by Raphael making his excuses and following after Magnus.

"Well, at least the truth is out now." Simon sighed and yes, maybe he had expected Magnus to jump of happiness and to run into Alec's waiting arms but Jace was right, real life was not a movie. He saw Jace make his excuses and took out his phone to send a message before following him out with Clary.

[To Raphael       20:51]

The address I gave you was also true.

 

Back at the Lightwoods' Alec was pacing up and down the room. He had been told off by both his siblings for trying to lash out at Simon (and yes, Jace coming to his defense had been quite a surprise) and was now alternating between maniacally refreshing every message app in his phone and muttering darkly to himself. No one, not even Simon, dared to say a word.

The bell rang and Alec looked towards it hopeful and nervous, and when Jace opened it to reveal Raphael his whole face fell. Simon's arms itched with need to give him a hug, and some hot chocolate, and some puppies, maybe cats?

"Is that idiot here?" Raphael stormed inside the Lightwood's flat not looking once at Simon.

Alec frowned looking at Simon for a moment before realizing Raphael was not referring to him "Magnus? I thought he was still in the hotel?" and now he was even more worried, great.

"I didn't manage to catch up with him after he left the club and he isn't answering his damm phone." Raphael explained.

"That was hours ago!" Jace exclaimed.

"Do you think something has happened to him?" asked Izzy at the same time.

Raphael shook his head and the three Lightwoods let out a synchronized sigh of relief. "I'm pretty sure he is just trying to wrap his head up around all this new information.” He said then he turned his accusatory glare towards Alec “It was a lot to take in, especially after nine fucking months! Why didn't you tell him before? Or me? You knew I knew where he was. "

Alec just shrugged "Would you have believed me?” he asked and the expression in Raphael’s face said no. “Exactly. You already though me a traitor, didn't want you to think I was a liar too. And I thought it would be easier for him to move on. That he’d be better off without me.”

"So you're an idiot too.” Raphael summarized and Izzy giggled. “There is one place I haven’t checked out yet, his loft.”

“Shouldn’t that have been the first place you went to?” asked Simon.

“Nah, he hates that flat” he took something out of his pocket and threw it to Alec. “Here" Alec caught it and realized it was a set of keys. “Go talk to him and sort this out already. I’ll text you his new address."

Alec nodded determined and grabbed his jacket “I haven't changed my number.”

"Of course not, didn't want Magnus to lose his easiest way to contact you, did you?” Raphael rolled his eyes. “If you break his heart again I'll end you.” He added when Alec was already closing the door.

An awkward silence fell after Alec’s departure. “So drinks this Friday?” asked Isabelle a bit unsure.

Raphael smirked at her. “Oh yeah, and you’ll be paying for them. And for every drink we have in at least a month for not telling me sooner.”

“Come on!” Izzy protested. “You are the one that banned me from talking about Alec. And we have drinks at your club!”

“So you’ll get the family and friends discount.” Raphael said and the responding smile Isabelle threw his way was blinding. Then he turned towards Simon. “Now you, why did you think it was acceptable to leave the hotel half an hour before your shift ended?”

“Wait, what?” Simon asked really confused and maybe a bit hopeful.

Raphael sighed. “You signed a binding six months contract, I expect you to fulfill it.”

“So I’m not fired?” Simon checked starting to smile.

“I really can’t be bothered to go through the process to hire a new accountable again.” Raphael sighed. “You’ll have to do.”

“He is actually not bad at hacking.” Isabelle interceded and Simon couldn’t help but feeling he was being used as a peace offering. Not that he was complaining.

“Is that so?” Raphael looked at him interested. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, don’t be late.” And with that he was out of the door.

“You’re really going to keep working in the DuMort?” asked Clary a bit sad.

Simon took her hand reassuringly. “Come on, Clary, we always knew we’d end up working at different places. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop dragging you to my concerts or show up to your house to demand a sleepover.”

“It better not.” His friend answered with a mock warning glare.

“When Alec fix things with Magnus we’ll make the DuMort our base of operation again so really it’s not like we’ll be getting rid of him anytime soon.” added Jace rolling his eyes playfully.

Clary smiled at him and then the four of them looked towards the door. “We won’t get any sleep tonight, will we?” Simon asked.

“Nope” Izzy confirmed.

“Star Wars marathon?” Jace offered and really, Simon wasn’t going to say no to that.

Chapter Text

Alec stared at the key in his hand, remembering the last time he had had a key to Magnus’ place, their place. It seemed so long ago. He was conflicted, on one hand it seemed wrong to enter Magnus' home without his permission; on the other one... they really needed to talk. He breathed in and opened the door. He entered the loft and was surprised to see that it looked a lot like the one they had once shared. He recognized pieces here and there: over the couch was the blanked he had bought Magnus the day he refused to admit he was sick, on the wall that painting Izzy had gifted them that Alec had always thought was awful but Magnus and Iz told him was modern... Magnus himself was standing in the living room, still wearing the fancy suit from before but while his hair was still flawlessly styled his makeup was smudged, like he had been crying. Alec felt his heart tightening in his chest and closed his fist reminding himself that it was not his place to brush away the bit of mascara he could see in Magnus’ cheek.

"Hi." he said quite pathetically and then it dawned on him that this was the first time he and Magnus were in the same room in nine months. Oh how Alec had missed him.

"Hello" Magnus replied, seemingly as lost of words as he was. "What are you doing here?" and he didn't sound accusatory, just lost.

"I... well...” he had not, however, missed the stuttering mess Magnus presence usually reduced him to. "You... you disappeared five hours ago. You weren't in the hotel and Raphael was worried. And... and I was too. I just wanted to... you know... to check if you were alright." Magnus said nothing and Alec grew even more nervous. "I'm so sorry Magnus, I told Jace to stop Raphael. That was not the way for you to find out, especially not in the middle of a con. I'm just sorry." Magnus remained silent. "I'll be going now." and turned around intending to do just that.

"So it was true?" Magnus trembling voice stopped him "You didn't trade me for Isabelle?"

"Of course not Magnus" Alec said softly. "I would have never done that. Hodge stole my phone." he explained slowly turning around.

"But they did offer you to let her go" Magnus insisted looking lost. "And I know you; you'd do anything for your siblings."

"Almost" corrected Alec. "I'd do almost anything to protect those I love. My family. And you are included in that." he ended gaze fixed at some point over Magnus shoulder not wanting to see Magnus realize he had listened in his conversation with Simon. "I'd never endanger you willingly. I'm sorry I was so stupid. I should have realized that Hodge was up to something. He had my phone for a whole freaking day and I didn't even notice it was missing! God I'm such an incompetent!" he grunted. "I'm sorry." he let his head fall.

"You're not incompetent." Magnus voice was low and soft but left no room for protest and Alec head snapped up to look at him. "You made a mistake, we all do." he crossed the room until he was standing in front of Alec, still looking unsure. "You're forgiven." he added with a tiny smile before taking a deep breath. "And I owe you and apology too" Alec tried to interrupt him but was stopped by Magnus putting a finger in front of his lips, almost touching him." I do, Alexander, I should have trusted you. I should have known that you wouldn't do that to me. And, at the very least, I should have let you give me an explanation."

"You called me Alexander" Alec smiled brightly. "I really, really, really hated it when you called me Alec." he explained shyly. "Say it again?" he pleaded.

"Alexander." Magnus purred, he raised a hand to cup his cheek. "Alexander." he repeated his voice trembling slightly. He smiled shyly and Alec breath hitched.

"Magnus..." his voice broke and Magnus interrupted him bringing their lips together.

Magnus was kissing him, after nine month they were kissing again. Alec's brain seemed to not be able to compute this so he remained there, stuck, without kissing back. It wasn't until Magnus pulled back that Alec reacted. He gripped the lapels of Magnus’

suit and pulled him in again, drinking the surprised sound that fell out of the older man's lips. He kissed him furiously, hand migrating to his hips to pull him even closer, until there wasn't a breath of air between them. Magnus arms snaked around his neck while he kissed back with as much passion. They were so intimately pressed against each other that Alec felt it the second Magnus body started to react to their heated make out session.

"Wait, stop" Alec pulled away from the kiss abruptly. And Magnus smile disappeared.

"Something's wrong?" Magnus asked confused. "Don't you want to...”

"I do!" Alec answered way too quickly and way too loud. "Believe me, I do. I want you more than anything. I just don't want to rush things." he explained, Magnus face was still confused and Alec was going to have to explain himself, wasn't he? He breathed in deeply reminding himself that lack of communication had led to them not speaking to each other for nine months. He had to make sure there were no more misunderstandings, so he was going to have to be honest and earnest. Fuck. "I don't want to do something we may regret in the morning. I want to sleep with you Magnus, I always want to sleep with you. I mean..." he gestured to Magnus' body, causing the other man to smirk at him before urging him to continue by raising and eyebrow. "But I also want more." he exhaled "I want to fall sleep next to you and know that tomorrow you'll be there, that you'll be happy to be there. I want to go on dates, to the movies and restaurants and all that. Everything we used to do. I want to hold your hand, to kiss your cheek, I want to trust you with everything like before, and have you trust me back. I want to make you fall in love with me again and I want to be able to admit that I'm crazy about you, that I never stopped." he confessed his cheeks burning and Magnus eyes widened at that. "I want you back, all of you, and if we sleep together before we have fixed everything I might risk losing you for good" he ended.

"Well, then" Magnus was smiling brighter than the sun and Alec couldn't look away. "I've always been quite terrible at denying you anything, darling, you know that."

Alec looked at Magnus from under his eyelashes, not daring to believe what he was hearing. "Is that..."

"A yes" Magnus confirmed "Yes to falling sleep together, yes to the movies, yes to diner, yes to holding your hand" he took Alec's hand holding it tightly, like he never wanted to let it go, and really, Alec was actually fine with that prospect, his siblings would just have to adapt. "Yes to cheek kisses." he smiled raising on his tiptoes to give one to Alec, lingering for a tad too long with his lips pressed against Alec's face. "Yes to learning to trust each other again." he said seriously. "And yes to admit that we are still head over heels for each other, no matter how hard we've tried to move on." he ended and Alec's heart stopped.

"Really?" he asked and he was sure his smile was goofy and unattractive but he didn't care. Magnus still had feelings for him and that was all that mattered.

"Really" Magnus confirmed. "Now, let's go." he said trying to use the hand he was still holding to drag Alec to the door.

"Where are we going?" he asked confused.

"Remember that bar we went for our first date?" Magnus asked. "I thought that there's really not a better way to celebrate us getting back together than to relive our first date." he said. "Maybe without the ex talk." he amended wincing.

"Magnus, it's four in the morning." Alec reasoned halfheartedly, the words getting back together echoing in his head and making him dizzy. "There's no way it's still open."

"Luckily for us the owner owes me a favor" Magnus rolled his eyes at Alec's concerns still trying to get him to the door.

"We are not waking up poor Maia just so she can open the Hunter’s Moon for us." Alec argued, using the grip Magnus had on his hand to pull him in, hugging his waist.

"Fine" Magnus pouted. "But I want it on record that I was planning something more romantic for our first date in nine month than whatever local we find open at this hour."

"You know, I've never counted the bar as our first date?" Alec admitted blushing.

"Really? And why not?" Magnus turned around in Alec's embrace to look him in the eyes with curiosity.

"Well because for me, our first date had already happened" he confessed to Magnus, smiling bashfully "Remember that time when Luke got shoot and I helped you heal him?"

"Yeah, I was quite a capable doctor, wasn't I? Especially considering it was my first time treating a bullet wound on someone else." Magnus bragged still not sure where this was going. "I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't offered to donate your blood though."

"It was the right thing to do." Alec stated hiding a blush when he saw the fond, proud look in Magnus eyes "Anyway, after that you said I had given too much blood and that it was too late for me to return home safely on my own."

"That may have only been partially true." Magnus admitted "But what can I say, I just wanted to keep you with me for a little longer."

"And you did" Alec smiled broadly. "You made cocktails and we spend all night talking about anything and everything."

"You know, I spend all night dreading the dawn. I wanted time to freeze so we wouldn't have to stop." Magnus sighed, his face soft and inviting. Alec pressed their lips together in a chaste kiss.

"Me too, it’s one of my best nights to date" he whispered against Magnus lips. Then he pulled back and grimaced "Besides the whole Luke-is-dying part of the evening" he amended sheepishly causing Magnus to giggle.

"You're right." Magnus conceded. "That was our first date."

"And it's one we can recreate without leaving the loft."

Magnus smiled softly and Alec gently tugged his hand guiding him to the couch. They sat in silence facing each other, eyes never leaving the other's face, for a couple of minutes. Then Magnus started laughing a bit hysterically and Alec followed. They ended trying to regain their breathing, foreheads touching and maniacal grins on their faces. "Tell me everything you've done in the last nine months?" Magnus asked.

"I may have spent them alternating between stalking you and working." admitted Alec sheepishly.  At Magnus surprised expression he clarified. "You covered your tracks perfectly but I knew you wouldn't cut your family out completely. I just waited for one of them to make a mistake and found you."

"Who?" asked Magnus more curious than anything else.

"Tessa" Alec said. "Well, Will actually. He bought your favorite wine with his credit card and sent it directly to you. I just followed it."

"As smart as that was, I don't know how I feel about you monitoring my friends' credit cards."

"Sorry, I just wanted to see if you were okay, I shouldn't have." Alec apologized.

"You should have told one of them what had happened and saved us both nine month of agony." Magnus was smiling but Alec could hear the reproach in his voice.

"I should have." he admitted. And this was about wining Magnus trust back so he continued "I was afraid it wouldn't matter. And terrified I would hurt you again. And hated myself for hurting you in the first place, so part of me thought I didn't deserve to have you back. Mostly I was just paralyzed because I didn't know what I would have done if I had actually had to choose between you and Izzy. I still don't" he admitted eyes fix on the couch.

"Well, I don't know what would happen if I had to choose between you and Raphael." Magnus confessed in turn. "The thing is we don't have to. And we'll never will." he added placing a hand in Alec's cheek. "I love your family I would never take it away from you."

"I know but that's not the point. You deserve someone that will put you first." Alec protested vehemently.

"And you usually do." Magnus voice didn't allow for protest so Alec just kissed him again.

"I try" he allowed. Magnus was looking at him softly and vulnerable and Alec didn't know what to say. "We took down Morgenstern" he blurted out, changing abruptly the subject.

Magnus chuckled amused but allowed it. "So I heard. Quite the feat."

"Not that impressive. We had inside help." Alec corrected blushing slightly.

"Simon?" Magnus asked. "That's how you knew about our conversation this morning, right? He is part of your crew, isn’t he?"

"Sorry about that. I told him not to ask you that." Alec apologized again. "But yeah, he is best friends with Valentine's daughter and they're both with us. At least for now, I have a feeling Simon may join the DuMort permanently if Raphael let's him."

"Oh, he will." Magnus reassured him with a smile. "And I'm dying to talk to your sister about that particular development." Alec laughed. "What's the daughter's name?"

Alec winced. "Clary, you've actually met her." he told Magnus averting his gaze. "The first night Jace came with Smythe, she was the redheaded Jace left with."

Magnus sighed. "The one I decided to try and pick up just because Jace seemed interested in her and I knew you were hearing me flirt?" he asked. Alec nodded. "I am sorry." Magnus forced Alec to look at him in the eyes. "For flirting with her and all that other people. And talking about people I had slept with, all of whom were a lie." Alec started protesting but Magnus squeezed his leg to keep him quite. "I know we were broken up and I could flirt with them but I only did it to hurt you and that was wrong. It was unfair to you, to me and to them. I'm sorry" he waited for Alec to nod before continuing. "And I'm sorry for the comment about the coffee machine. I thought Jace was trying to rub in my face we weren't together anymore and got angry."

"He didn't. I think he just forgot you two weren't in bantering terms anymore. And I was glad for that comment." Alec smiled shyly. "A bit conflicted maybe but happy to hear you still had it. You should have left it in our apartment."

"But it's magical!" Magnus protested. "I broke up with you not with the best coffee in the world." Both of them chuckled. "Is Jace mad at me?" Magnus asked unsure. "I wouldn't blame him."

"No he isn't. He is probably downloading every episode of this season of Project Runway right now." Alec rolled his eyes. 

Magnus smiled. "Good, I heard it's a good one."

Alec rolled his eyes.

"Is Simon how he's been in the Dumort or was that a charade?" Magnus asked twisting the rings on his fingers.

"Oh, that was him." Alec reassured him. "Sadly"

Magnus laughed. "Raphael will be happy." he commented. "And what's Clary like? I can't believe you let new people join your crew."

"It wasn't my choice, believe me." Alec sighed "She is reckless and impulsive and always thinks she knows best even on subjects she is new to." he rolled his eyes "But she is also brave, loyal and smart so I guess she is not that bad. And she is a fast learner, though I'll be dead before I admit that to her" at Magnus mock disapproving glare he explained. "Jace is in love with her, she needs to fear me to ensure his heart doesn't get broken."

Magnus laugh. "Jace in love? That's a new one."

"Yeah, and it's the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I thought he was reckless before! Clary is a danger magnet and Jace's hero complex has only gotten worst! They'll give me white hair before I'm thirty, I swear" Alec sighed.

"Well, I'm sure you'll pull it off." Magnus reassured him petting his hair. "So I'll take Clary is here to stay then?"

Alec nodded, longsuffering. "I'm afraid so. You'll probably love her." he admitted.

"Will she love me?"

"Who doesn't?" And Magnus had to kiss him for that one. They ended trading lazy kisses for several minutes, just enjoying the warmth of the other one in their arms. "I've really missed you." Alec whispered against Magnus lips. "Every second of every day. Please don't leave me again? I don't like it without you" he asked, voice raw before pulling Magnus into a tight hug and nuzzling at his neck. Magnus sighed against his shoulder.

"Never" he promised in a whisper. He could feel Alec's smile against his skin. "I missed you too, I've missed you like hell. Even though I didn't want to."

"We're together now." Alec said with a shy smile resting his forehead against Magnus'. "And we can fix this, right? Fix us? I know it's going to take a lot of effort but it'll be worth it"

"I'm all for effort" Magnus promised. Alec leaned in for another kiss when his phone buzzed. Alec sighed taking it out.

[From Jace         06:19]

I know you are fixing things with Magnus and I’m really sorry to interrupt but Carrignton just texted me.

[From Jace         06:19]

He wants to take me to a fishing trip and leave at seven.

[From Jace         06:20]

Because being a corrupt judge is not bad enough, he has to be a morning person! I loathe him!

[From Jace         06:20]

What do I tell him?

He showed Magnus the texts. "What do you want him to do?" he asked.

"Does it matter? After how I left tonight, or well, yesterday I doubt I still have a con." he said, then he threw one of his soft awed glances at Alec. "Not that I care about it anymore."

"You do" Alec protested and frowned looking thoughtful. "We can use you leaving. You can tell them you've received news from home. Maybe you're character father is dying?"

"Or my wife is pregnant. The way I feel right now I won't be able to play the bad news card" Magnus said with a shy smile before he kept inventing. "And that news freaked me out yesterday but now I'm happy. But I have to go back home immediately because of it."

"And you can only make the deal today because you’re plane leaves tomorrow morning." continued Alec.

"Too bad Carrignton will be unavailable all day, isn't it?" Magnus sighed. "Though that does mean the other two will get and even better deal."

They smiled at each other. "What about Aldertree?" Alec asked. "Don't think he'll go fishing." he said texting Jace to let him know he had to keep Carrington busy all day and smiling to the string of sad emoticons he received as an answer.

"Who's Aldertree?" Magnus blinked, his confused face was too adorable decided Alec before pressing a kiss on his forehead.

"The fed babysitting him, he is staying in one of the hotel's room." he explained. "He tried to get illegal services from Raphael in order to take down the DuMort but Simon stopped him. That's how he knew what had happened."

Magnus bit his lower lip deep in thought and Alec's brain stopped working. "So we have Raphael and Simon take a little suspicious trip, they can arrange it in front of Aldeltree. He'll follow them. What do you think?"

"Uhm... What?" Alec asked dragging his head up to meet Magnus eyes. "Sorry, I was distracted."

Magnus laughed."Darling if you want a kiss all you have to do is ask." Magnus teased with a wink.

Alec stroked Magnus cheek softly "Kiss me?" he whispered and Magnus smiled sweetly before leaning in and complying. They parted smiling. "So what was your idea?" Alec asked.

"Uh?" now Magnus was the one disoriented. "Oh! Yeah, we use Simon and Raphael to keep him entertained. He must be furious Simon interrupted him, if he sees them making mysterious plans he'll follow them."

"You are just trying to set them up." Alec teased. "But it is a good plan." he admitted and Magnus smiled at him and texted Raphael with the plan.

"Okay, Raphael says he'll do it once Simon comes in to work. And that if I ever wake him up before seven he’ll burn my entire closet. Rude.” He pouted making Alec smile. “I've been in Carrington’ fishing trips; they usually last all day, so I'll invite the judges to lunch at the Jade Wolf."

"That gives us several hours. Do you need to do anything to prepare?" Alec asked. "Anything I can help you with?"

"Everything has been in place since before Jace met them, it should be fine. I should go to that meeting well rested though and we haven't slept at all tonight." Magnus commented.

"Oh" Alec said disappointed. "I suppose I should get going then."

"Or you could come take a nap with me?" Magnus asked hopeful. "I haven't had a good night rest since the last time I fell asleep in your arms." Alec smiled and let himself be pulled towards the bedroom.

Chapter Text

Magnus woke up feeling far more rested than he had in months. He could hear Alec’s heavy breathing, feel the heat of his arms surrounding him, the weight of Alec’s head over his chest… He pressed his eyelids firmly together, afraid that if he opened them he would find out that last night had been a lie. He tightened his arms around the other man who responded by snuggling closer, pressing his face harder against Magnus' chest. Carefully Magnus opened his eyes and was rewarded with the sight of Alec’s face, expression completely unguarded and relaxed, a rare sight for everyone but him. He smiled and slowly raised a hand to gently play with his hair.

“I had forgotten how nice it is to wake up like this.” Alec sleepy voice caught him by surprise, freezing his movement. “Don’t stop.” He protested pushing his head against Magnus’ hand until it resumed its caresses.

“Bossy, aren’t we?” Magnus teased unable to suppress a smile.

“You’ve never complained before” Alec retorted tracing patterns with his fingers over Magnus’ chest. “Do we have to get up?” he asked.

“Eventually. But it’s still early.” Magnus promised. “Did you sleep well?”

“Fantastically” Alec answered with a sigh. “How slow are we taking things again? Because I’m refusing to sleep without you ever again.”

Magnus chuckled. “You’re the one that wanted to take things slow.” He reminded him.

“I have the worst ideas.” The younger man grumbled. “We shouldn’t take it slow, we should move in together and get married and not be apart ever again.”

 Magnus' breath caught, he had forgotten how affectionate and uninhibited Alec was when sleepy. “I hope you do not consider that a proposal.” He settled with trying to hide the blush in his cheeks.

“Nah, you like big declarations and rings and flowers.” Alec answered. “And I’ll give that to you when I do it.”

“What makes you think I won’t beat you to it?” Magnus asked falling back into their competitive teasing. “With something private and romantic, just the way you like it.” Alec was blushing too, Magnus noticed delighted. “But maybe we can save this talk for some other day? After all we are taking things slow.” Alec snorted but nodded.

“It’s not like I don’t want to do this right. It’s just I’ve never been too good with taking things slow.” He admitted gaze fixed on the wall.

Magnus tightened his grip in the arm still wrapped around his waist. “I know; you are a ‘if I’m in I’m in’ kind of person. I quite like that about you.”

Alec smiled at him, shyly “Yeah?”

“Yeah”

And that was the moment Magnus’s alarm went off, making them both jump. Alec groaned. "I guess we do have to get up."

Magnus nodded, fighting the disappointment he felt when the other man left his chest. "I suppose I should let you go to your place to change, shouldn't I?" he pouted.

He should have remembered that Alec was completely helpless against his pout. "Or I could go get breakfast while you shower and get ready? And then we can go to my place together?" he offered with a shy smile.

"That sounds perfect." Magnus beamed at him. "You sure you don't mind waiting for me? I take my time getting ready, if you recall. Perfection isn't easy."

"Please," Alec scoffed "you know you look perfect already."

Magnus rewarded him with a kiss and playfully pushed him out of the room. And if he took the fastest shower of his life and chose the red shirt and tight black pants that always made Alec stare for a tad longer than usual, well, no one could ever prove it. He was applying his make-up, hair already perfectly stylized, when he heard a knock in his door. "Don't worry angel, I'm decent."

"That's disappointing." Alec teased back opening the door. He smiled at him softly and sat on the bed. "You still like ‘ensaimades’ don't you?"

"Yes, of course. But where on earth did you find them in New York?" Magnus asked not missing Alec's eyes following his hand's movement in the mirror while he was giving his make-up the final touch.

Alec smiled, clearly pleased with himself. "That's a secret I will take to the grave."

"You do know that means I'm going to make you bring me breakfast every morning from now on, don't you?" Magnus teased getting up and walking towards Alec.

"I'm counting on it." he smiled and guided Magnus towards the kitchen, the promised pastries where there along with a couple of coffee's. They sat down to eat side by side unable still to keep from smiling and they spent the breakfast catching up, joking and flirting. It was the nicest morning Magnus had had in a long time.

Once they were done, and Magnus had convinced Alec to not do the dishes, they made their way towards the Lightwoods' flat. They were walking close enough that their hands where brushing against each other. Magnus could feel Alec tense every time their hands touched though he was the one engineering it happening. The older man bit back a smile and reached out to intertwine their fingers causing Alec to blush, a pleased smile escaping him when he squeezed Magnus' hand.

The weight of Alec’s hand in his was helping Magnus fight the anxiety that was increasing as they got closer to the Lightwood’s flat. He knew he was being ridiculous, Jace and Izzy knew what had happened, why he had broken up with Alec, they wouldn’t hate him for hurting him, right? I mean they were awfully protective of one another and Alec did have a tendency of taking the blame and responsibility for everything wrong in the world so those past months had had to be hell for him, and…

“Stop freaking out” Alec ordered, clearly picking up his distress. “My siblings adore you. Hell, they have missed you almost as much as I have.” He held the front door open for him. “Come on, Love, I promise it’ll be fine.” It was the endearment that convinced him. Unlike Magnus who had a nickname for everyone he knew and an endless number of them for Alec, Alexander only used Love (and when he was extremely sleep deprived or feeling particularly sappy, sweetheart) occasionally and always managed to make Magnus’ heart stop.

Alec was right of course, the moment they step into the apartment Magnus found himself almost tackled by a very enthusiastic Isabelle who seemed determined to hug all the oxygen out of his body. “Magnus! I missed you” she said.

“I missed you too” he admitted hugging back just as fiercely.

“I would appreciate it if you didn’t suffocate my boyfriend” Alec told her sister glaring at her playfully. That sent a tickling, warm sensation to Magnus' stomach. God, he was supposed to be too old for butterflies! Trust Alexander to make him feel like a teenager again with a single word.

“Your boyfriend, uh?” Izzy smile was almost as big as theirs. “So you two are back together, then?”

“We are.” Magnus confirmed sending a warm smile to Alec who responded in kind. “Though your brother insists on taking things slow.” He sighed rolling his eyes and causing Izzy to snort. He did wink at Alec to make sure he knew he was only teasing.

“Yeah, yeah, you two can make fun of me while I change.” His boyfriend (boyfriend!) said heading towards the bathroom. His dramatic eyeroll was undermined by the grin that threatened to split his face.

“Are we sure that's Alec?” a familiar voice commented. “I mean, he is smiling. I didn’t know his face could do that.” Simon was sitting in the couch, the redhead Magnus remembered by his side.

“Alec's face can do a lot of things.” He teased making that sound as dirty as possible. “Trust me, I know.” Both Simon and Clary looked mildly disturbed.

“Remember the rules, Magnus, no innuendo regarding my brother in front of me unless either Jace or Alec are also present” Isabelle scolded him. “It’s not funny if I can’t see them getting traumatized and embarrassed.”

“You are not fun.” Magnus pouted. “Shouldn’t you be at the DuMort?” he asked Simon.

“I was” he replied. “Raphael send me on a ‘suspicious’ errant to get Aldertree curious and told me to keep busy for a couple of hours far away from the hotel. I have to be back in half an hour to go to a carnival with him.”

Magnus snorted. “A carnival?”

“Yeah, Raphael though it’d be more suspicious than the movies, you know crows of people, suspicious individuals and all that jazz.” Simon explained.

“Well, make sure he wins you a prize, you know, for suspicion and all.” Izzy told Simon who blushed before muttering he had to get going to the hotel.

“I’ll walk him there.” Clary told them. “But I’ll be back latter. It’s good to meet you Magnus.”

“Likewise,” he answered, he sat on the couch they had left vacant and gestured Izzy to do the same. “So I owe you an apology.” He started.

“No, you don’t” the girl interrupted him. “Yes, it would have been easily resolved if you had let us explain but you had a very good reason not to. And if you are forgiving Alec for taking his sweet time to give you an explanation then we cannot blame you for cutting ties while you didn’t know. And yes,” she raised a hand to stop Magnus when he tried to interrupt “you were entitled to break ties with me even if I had no part in the deal, obviously talking to the person the love of your life had betrayed you for would have been excruciating and just because I was blameless doesn’t mean you had to suffer that. So no, I won’t let you apologize.”

“Just give up Magnus, you know how stubborn she is.” Magnus turned to look at the door where Alec was standing, hair still damp from the shower and wearing a shirt he had gifted him, and couldn’t help but smile.

“A family trait I find endearing.” He replied moving so Alec could sit by his side and arm over his shoulders. Alec leaned to peck his lips.

“Aww” Isabelle cooed. “You two are adorable.” Alec used his free arm to throw her a cushion. “But we do have crime to do so let’s focus.”

“It shouldn’t be that hard.” Magnus commented. “They are already in, I just have to make them sign a contract today and decide on what I’ll spent their money.”

Alec chuckled. “With Aldertree distracted and the deal taking place in the Jade Wold and not the DuMort we shouldn’t have any problem with the feds. Carrignton is still distracted, isn’t he?”

“Oh yes” Izzy laugh “Jace’ve been texting me, Clary and even Simon to complain about how everyone that considers fishing anything but a torture is mental and deserve to be executed. But he was quite proud when he got his first fish, pretty sure he’ll want to feed it to us tonight. I do know some fish recipes…”

“Jace will probably want to be the one to cook it.” Alec defused rubbing Magnus’ suddenly quite tense shoulders. “Anyway, Izzy you can help Magnus with the transference, right? Make sure it’s completely untraceable?”

“Have you met me?” his sister scoffed. “I have nine shield companies ready already, all of them in tax havens, if we make the money pass through them after the ones Magnus must have ready too there’s no way anyone will find that money. If that’s okay with you, of course.” He told Magnus.

“Well, I’m not going to complain about having the help of the best hacker in America.” He winked at her. “I suppose if I don’t let your brother listen in my lunch date he’ll get angsty?” he asked Izzy ignoring the offended look his boyfriend threw him.

“Most definitely.” Izzy affirmed. “And you know you’ve missed having his voice in your ear, don’t deny it.”

“I’m not. “ he smirked. “He does have a nice, smooth voice, doesn’t he?”

“He does”

“And I’m still here.” Alec reminded them his cheeks pink. “Izzy you have more earbuds right?”

“Yes, and remind me to be mad at Raphael for what he did to Simon’s once he does not longer occupy the moral high ground.” she told them. They heard the door open and turned towards it to see Clary arrive. “Did it work?”

“Yeah, Aldertree left the DuMort ten minutes after Simon and Raphael, following after them.” She told them.

“Perfect.” Izzy went to her computer and started typing.

“And both Smythe and Locke agree to meet for lunch” Magnus told them with a bright grin showing them his phone victoriously.

“Alec, could you call Luke?” Izzy asked. “I could hack his restaurant's cameras without too much trouble but I rather have his permission, don’t want to get them mad now that we are back on good terms with the DuMorts.” She turned to Magnus “I’m assuming you've already talked to him.” He nodded.

Alec sent a longing glance towards Magnus. “Go do your job” his boyfriend told him with a gentle push. “I’m not going anywhere.” Alec sighed, kissed him again and went to the balcony to make the call so he wouldn’t bother the others but would be able to still see Magnus. His boyfriend stared after him with a smile.

“Hi again” Clary sat by his side. “I’m Clary.”

“Hi” Magnus smiled at her. “Valentine’s daughter?” he asked then winced. “Sorry, I meant…”

“Biologically.” Clary admitted. “But Luke’s my real dad.”

“Luke Garrowen?” Magnus’ eyebrows rose to his hair. “Wait, you are Jocelyn’s little demon? They are always talking about you. I thought you were an artist!”

“I am” she said with a smile. “I’m just not sure I want to be that exclusively.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you at last.” He said “Luke’s an old friend so it’s overdue. Oh, and I’m sorry I hit on you, I was trying to piss Jace and Alec off.”

Clary laughed “That’s okay. It was quite flattering to be honest and jealousy is a good look on Jace.”

“She believes anything is a good look on Jace.” Isabelle interceded.

“Has she seen him with a duck near?” Magnus asked with a smirk.

“Not yet, she hasn’t.” Isabelle answering smirk made Clary look at them cautiously.

“I got Jace in trouble, haven’t I?”

“Don’t worry, he is used to it.” Alec said coming back to side by Magnus' side “We have Luke’s permission to hack them, he offered to give us access but I thought you’d find that boring.” He told Izzy.

“You know me so well, brother.” Izzy smiled starting to type.

“Do you have to do anything before the lunch?” Alec asked Magnus who shook his head. “Want to go for a walk?” Magnus smiled and took his hand.

 

Two hours later Magnus smile was significantly faker. Honestly, he wanted nothing more than to send this con to hell and make up for the lost time with Alec. But considering he already had them hooked it would be a shame to let those millions go. Especially when he could use them to take Alec somewhere remote to 'lay low' after this heist... Somewhere warm maybe where shirts were not recommended. Yes, that was a good idea. He sighed and focused in the men in front of him. “Thank you for meeting me in such a short notice gentleman” he told them with a charming smile “I wanted to apologize for my harsh departure yesterday.”

“No need for apologies” reassured him Smythe “I trust everything is okay?”

“More than okay, actually” Magnus thought about the night before and let his real, unabashed grin shine through his façade. “You see, my wife is expecting.”

“Well, congratulations” exclaimed Locke. “We are ordering champagne, we ought to celebrate.”

“How considerate of him” Alec’s dry tone made Magnus smile wider “Especially considering you’re paying.”

“Yes, yes, of course.” Magnus agreed gesturing a waitress to get the drink. “But as much as I wanted to share this news with you, this is not the reason for this lunch.” He said to the judges who prompted him to continue. “I’m sure you can understand that given these new circumstances I need to fly back home to be with my family. I’ve already gotten my ticked for the first plane going out tomorrow and it would dismay me to leave without giving you a last offer.”

“Well, this is a bit sudden.” Smythe posture tensed. “I mean, Carrignton isn’t even here.”

“I know! His secretary informed me he left for a fishing trip this morning. I can’t believe my bad luck” Magnus lamented. “But it does mean that the perks I was willing to offer him are now available and I can offer both of you an even better deal.” Both men perked up.

“They are such vultures.” Alec sighed. Magnus suppressed a smile and started laying down the new deal, watching his victims basically salivate. “Have I mention how attractive you look while conning people?” Alec wondered making Magnus smirk towards where he knew was a camera.

Alec!” Izzy cried pretending to be scandalized “You are aware that I’m hearing you flirt, aren’t you?”

“Yeah, well, pretend you’re not.” Alec grunted and Magnus just knew he was blushing “I haven’t been able to tell Magnus how amazing he is in nine months I’m not passing any opportunity now that I can.” Magnus was aware that his smile was sappy and vulnerable but couldn’t help it, luckily the judges were too busy pondering the new offer to notice.

After that it didn’t take long. A bit of flattery, some reassurance and good wine and the judges where practically begging him to take his money. They had mentioned Jace's offer to get him to give them more perks but his was way better and they both knew it. Two hours later the papers where signed and the transference made and the three man parted ways all convinced they had gotten the best deal out of the others. "So how do you feel about eloping with me to Menorca, angel?" Magnus wondered out loud, ignoring the weird looks he got from all the other people in the street.

"Sure, when do we leave?"  asked Alec sounding as eager as Magnus felt.

"Not before I get to catch up with Magnus."

Magnus took out his phone deciding it was better not to freak people out by talking alone. "Jace? I thought you were still fishing."

"I faked a medical emergency the minute Izzy told me you had them. Fishing is the worst! Even if I'm as natural gifted at it as I am at everything else." he bragged.

"You can show off at dinner, now shush, I'm trying to talk to my boyfriend." Alec scolded him.

"You spent all last night talking to him, let me at least say hi" Magnus smiled at the brothers' bickering.

"Boys, I have enough time for both of you." he promised. Alec cleared his throat loudly. "But yes, Alexander, you are my favorite." Magnus acknowledged.

"Fine Alec gets you now but then you have to watch project Runway with me tonight." said Jace trying to sound joking and nonchalant and failing by a mile.

"Of course, we have to catch up with this season before I swipe Alec away to Menorca." he told him. "Now it's next Wednesday too soon?"

"Can't we make it Monday?" his boyfriend protested.

"I promised Ragnor, Catarina and Raphael I'd have dinner with them on Tuesday." Magnus pouted. He heard Alec's breath deepen. "Of course you and your siblings are all invited, pretty sure Raph won't mind Simon coming too."

"Good, I've missed them." Alec confessed. "We'll be there."

And Magnus realized how much he had missed this, not just Alec (though god had he missed him!) but his family, their family, together laughing and teasing and being obnoxious together. Izzy and Raphael sipping cocktails and judging them all from a corner, Jace and Catarina teaming up to tease them, Lydia and Ragnor having weird trivia competitions about random episodes of history and him and Alec rolling they eyes at all of them not being able to hide their fondness. He couldn't wait to have that back and to see how Simon and Clary fitted with them. He smiled realizing that, for the first time in months, he was looking forward what the future might bring. Though all of it could wait a couple of weeks. He and Alec deserved a vacation.

Chapter Text

Luke was sitting on his office in the Jade Wolf when he heard yells. He frowned, it was way too early for anyone to come have lunch, the only reason the restaurant was even opened was so they could do inventory before the setting everything up, so whoever it was couldn’t be an indignant client demanding to be serve. He got up and opened the door but stopped to listen in the conversation.

“I’m telling you I’m agent Aldertree of the FBI and I need access to your security cameras.” A man was saying.

“And I’m telling you that won’t be possible without a warrant.” Luke smiled, Gretel may be a little shit sometimes but she was his little shit. She would buy him a couple of minutes before the fed demanded to speak with the owner. He shot a quick text to Izzy.

[To Isabelle       10:41]

What was the name of the fed that was monitoring Magnus?

Izzy replied instantly much to his relief.

[From Isabelle  10:41]

Victor Aldertree
Why?

[To Isabelle       10:41]

He’s here, wants the footage. Anything incriminating in it?

[From Isabelle  10:41]

Not really.
They already have photos of Magnus, this is just him having dinner with some men.

[To Isabelle       10:42]

Ok, thanks.

Outside Aldertree was still trying to convince Gretel. “Look, a criminal made a deal here. Unless your restaurant has something to hide I suggest you give me what I’m asking you”

“No” Gretel crossed her arms. “We have clients that regard their privacy very highly. We won’t betray their trust without a judge order.”

Aldertree pressed his lips, clearly understanding that Gretel wouldn’t budge. But Luke knew men like Aldertree, if they got in his way he would take it personally and the Jade Wolf did not need the scrutiny. Also it wouldn’t hurt to have the fed be grateful with him for giving him absolutely nothing. “Wait” his voice stopped Aldertree. “Come to my office.” He sent Gretel a reassuring smile that she returned. “I’m Luke Garroway, the owner.” He introduced himself.

“Victor Aldertree, FBI.” The other said looking extremely smug to be let into the office.

“Look, Gretel is right, we have some clients that would be upset if we let you take the footage so we can’t, certainly not without a warrant.” Luke explained. “The Jade Wolf has a reputation within the political class of being discreet.” Aldertree was frowning clearly wondering way Luke had brought him here. “But I used to be a policeman and I remember how frustrating uncooperative business are.” He sighed. “If you tell me what day and hour I can let you look at the footage, from my office and off the record.”

“It wouldn’t be admissible as prove.” The fed noticed.

“No, but we both know that if you had enough for a warrant you’d already taken it all.” Luke smiled friendly at him. “So this is the best you are gonna get. And how knows, maybe that footage can inspire you about where to look for prove.”

Aldertree smiled complicity at him. “Thank you”

He guided the other man towards the computer and played Magnus’ dinner for him. Just as Izzy had predicted the soundless recording was useless and after looking at it for three hours Aldertree groaned defeated, startling Luke that was doing some paperwork by his side.

“I feel you man, I remember how frustrating investigations were. Always dead-end after dead-end” Luke told him wondering what was the best way to get him to talk about it.

“Is that way you quitted it?” the fed asked him.

The truth was that two redheaded girls had stolen his heart and taught him that sometimes some extra legal help was needed, especially while on the run from a man like Valentine Morgenster. But that was not an answer that would made Aldetree trust him. “Nah, it was the bosses you know. Always insisting on doing everything by the book! I lost count how many criminals got away because fucking bureaucracy and the higher-ups deciding it was a waste of resources. So I decided to be my own boss.”

And apparently Luke had hit bullseye because Aldertree sighed. “I know what you mean. Like this criminal? I was following him for two month without him even realizing I was there! And suddenly he evades me? And I was going to get one of his accomplices too, I had him completely fooled and suddenly a kid walks in and he closed me off completely! I just don’t get how they knew I was there.” He breathed in accepting the drink Luke was offering him. “And there are the names: Izzy and Lydia. They had to be codes, right? And I went over them with my informant and he had heart Lydia’s name but not from the perp but from some bank investor that happened to disappear at the same time he did.”

“Sounds like they were in it together.” Luke commented.

“But then why did he only appear two months into the con? And why did Bane have such a weird reaction to Hodge’s deal? He almost broke character and hurried up the rest of the con to finish the very next day.” he sighed. “If I could get info into that case I’m sure I could find something but my boss has decided that he must already be out of the country and that the case is cold and has ordered me to close it.” He explained. “After two month and she thinks I’m just going to give up?” he told Luke indignantly.

“Well, it’s either that or go rogue.” Luke told him. “And to be honest, a couple of first names doesn’t seem like that much.” He admitted sheepishly.

“Yeah, maybe you are right.” Aldertree muttered looking unconvinced. “Either way I should leave you to your job. Thank you again for letting me see the footage.”

And with that he was gone. Luke sighed, he really hoped that some other case distracted Aldertree quickly.