Alec is rudely awakened by the chorus of Beyoncé’s ‘Crazy in Love’ blaring from Magnus’ phone.
The warlock stirs from sleep beside him, raising his head from its spot on Alec’s chest where Alec is sure he was drooled on during the night. Gross, but he guesses it’s one of the things that happens in relationships.
“Fuck,” Magnus hisses as he flails for the phone vibrating on his bedside table, barely managing not to fall out of bed in the process. Finally, he grabs the phone and swipes his finger angrily over the screen. “WHO DARES TO DISTURB THE HIGH WARLOCK OF BROOKLYN?!”
The voice that booms out of him is magically amplified and Alec smirks. He can bet that whoever is on the other side of the line wouldn’t be impressed by the high warlock right now - with his crazy bed hair and drool tracks on display.
“For fuck’s sake, Daniel, do you have any idea what time it is?”
Alec has no idea either. A quick glance at the clock on the other side of the room tells him it’s quarter past six in the morning. Certainly not the earliest time he was ever woken up, but it’s Saturday. They were supposed to have a lazy day spent on nothing but sleeping, eating, and watching bad reality TV. And probably a fair amount of fucking.
He sort of feels like he wants to yell at this Daniel person as well.
“Fine, fine!” Magnus snaps at Daniel, flopping back onto bed, his body nearly swallowed by the mountain of pillows. “I’ll get your stupid artifact today. But you are going to owe me.”
He doesn’t wait for the answer, just disconnects the call and tosses his phone back on the table. Alec is pretty sure he heard one of the fake rhinestones from the bedazzled case fall off and roll away on the floor.
Magnus lets out an offended huff, like he can’t stand dealing with morons the very first thing in the morning.
“So I guess we’re not going to spend a day in bed, are we?” Alec says, turning on his side so he can look at Magnus.
“I’m afraid not, darling,” the warlock sighs deeply, being the drama queen that he is. “Apparently some people are unable to grasp the concept of having a free day and insist on making my life difficult.”
“Was that a client?”
“A fellow warlock, actually.” Magnus frowns. “A minor warlock. He needs my help with removing one of the artifacts from his family’s crypt. The wards are too complicated for him, I suppose. Only someone specialized in the highly incarnate art of warding would be capable of removing the artifact safely.”
“You don’t need to sound so modest,” Alec deadpans.
Magnus just smirks.
“Want to come along? We can make this into an adventure.”
The crypt itself is not warded, only the artifact is, so they don’t have any problems with walking into the mausoleum that belongs to Daniel’s family. It’s richly decorated - fancy even - and behind the sarcophagus in the back, there is a hidden entrance leading to the lower levels of the crypt, just like they were told. The entire place is filled with scrolls and magical instruments. Apparently the warlock’s family has been dipping their toes in the arcane arts for many generations - but for now they are only interested in one thing.
It’s an orb. It’s not very big - Alec thinks it would fit in his palm without a problem. Its surface is gold, with a black, oily kind of shine that shimmers and moves on its own. There are some markings on it, symbols that Alec doesn’t recognize. He and Magnus stand around the pedestal that the artifact is placed on, not touching it for the time being.
There is something written on it, but the letters are tiny and Alec leans in to read them.
“Vincere maximem timorem,” Alec says, his brow furrowing for a second as he thinks. “‘To overcome the greatest fear’?”
Magnus nods and compliments Alec on his Latin. Alec just rolls his eyes at him.
Neither of them notice that the surface of the artifact ripples and follows Alec’s movement as he leans back and gives Magnus space to work.
While the warlock is weaving his magic through the wards, Alec busies himself with observing the numerous items on the countless shelves.
Alec isn’t sure if he can actually feel something happening, but it certainly seems so. A violent shiver runs down his back and he whips around to look at the warlock.
“Something is wrong,” Magnus hisses even as he tries to contain the power of the ward. Alec can see it, the way it pulses, like a repeating wave of heat that distorts the air. It comes from the artifact and Magnus’ hands are still hovering over it. It doesn’t look like he can pull away.
“Magnus!” Alec calls out to him - wants to tell him to move, to run away - but it’s too late. A burst of magic and light explodes from the orb, strong enough to knock Alec back and smack him into the opposite wall of the crypt.
When he shakes off the momentary dizziness, the nephilim jumps back to his feet and runs towards the warlock. Magnus is on his knees near the podium where the artifact still rests, untouched and undisturbed by the blast of energy that overturned everything else in the crypt.
Alec falls to his knees next to Magnus. He is looking down at his hands and when Alec reaches out to hold them, Magnus flinches away from his touch.
Alec doesn’t get to finish and the words die in the back of his throat. Magnus’ hands change right in front of their eyes, the smooth skin wrinkling and cracking more and more with every second. The effect seems to spread up his arms and through the rest of his body. Before Alec can understand what is going on, he is looking at his lover’s face, withered and wrinkled with age. His eyes, his beautiful cat eyes, are filled with terror and in a matter of seconds they cloud with white. His hair changes from black to grey and then pure white, before falling out completely. Magnus looks exactly like he should after four hundred years.
“Alexander--” Magnus manages to rasp out and reach towards Alec with one shaky hand. Alec catches him as he topples over, too petrified to do anything but breathe, the panic blooming in his chest with every heartbeat as Magnus ages rapidly in front of him.
Everything takes less than thirty seconds and Alec’s heart breaks when Magnus’ body turns to ash right there in his arms and then Magnus is gone.
Alec sits down on the bed in Magnus’ loft, too numb to do anything else but stare at a blank space on the wall. He doesn’t really know how he got there. He knows he called Izzy at one point, but he doesn’t remember what happened next.
Magnus is dead.
Alec doesn’t understand what really happened in the crypt, but he knows that other warlocks will investigate the artifact. That whatever happened to them won’t happen to anyone else.
He doesn’t care.
He just wants Magnus back.
Alec looks down at his hands folded in his lap and stops breathing when he notices ash underneath his fingernails. Back in the crypt it covered him, choked him when he inhaled with surprise. It’s Magnus. The ash is Magnus. Alec feels sick and he runs to the bathroom until he can expel whatever little food he has in his belly. He ends up in the shower, the water beating on him viciously from above, and scrubbing so hard he almost bleeds. He doesn’t want the remains of the ash anywhere on his body.
He stumbles back to bed when he’s done, still wet and naked, and he shivers in the evening chill. It’s almost midnight. Alec doesn’t want to think anymore, he just wants to curl up in bed and breathe in and hopefully still catch the scent of sandalwood lingering on the pillows.
The tears fall then and his chest aches with great, ugly sobs that shake him to the very core. Before he drifts into unconsciousness, Alec thinks he finally understands why some people die of broken heart.
‘Got me lookin’ so crazy right now, your love's got me lookin’ so crazy right now’
Alec startles awake and, in turn, Magnus twitches violently from his spot on Alec’s chest. It results in the warlock bumping his head into Alec’s chin, hard enough to make Alec’s teeth rattle.
“Fuck,” Magnus hisses as he rubs the sore spot at the back of his head and summons his phone from its place on the end table. He jabs his finger viciously at the screen. “WHO DARES TO DISTURB THE HIGH WARLOCK OF BROOKLYN?!”
Alec blinks, unable to do anything but breathe for a moment.
“For fuck’s sake, Daniel, do you have any idea what time it is?”
Alec is wide awake now. He looks at the clock and sure enough, it’s six fifteen in the morning.
“Fine, fine!” Magnus growls, stretching out on the bed again. “I’ll get your stupid artifact today. But you are going to owe me.”
When he tosses the phone back to the table (and yes, Alec can definitely hear one of the rhinestones rolling onto the floor) he turns back to Alec to say something snarky.
“What’s wrong?” He asks instead, his face turns concerned at the sight of the expression Alec is sporting right then. “Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something on my face?”
Alec lets out a short, barking laugh that sounds a little too desperate for his liking. He grabs Magnus by the shoulders and pulls the surprised warlock closer, kissing him with all the love he has. Magnus is surprised for all but one second before kissing him back enthusiastically.
“Nothing’s wrong,” Alec whispers once they separate, flushed and happy and a little breathless. “I just had a really bad dream.”
Magnus hums in sympathy and then leans in to kiss him some more.
A couple hours later, the worst déjà vu of his life becomes real and Alec is left with two handfuls of ash as Magnus dies in his embrace.
“I think I am stuck in a time loop.”
Well, that’s certainly not what Magnus expected to hear when he got off the phone.
Alec rubs his face, the heels of his palms pressing hard against his eyes, until the blackness behind his eyelids swirls with colors.
“This is the fourth time I’ve woken up to a call from Daniel. The fourth time I’ve relived the same day, over and over again.”
Magnus wants to ask Alec if he’s joking, but when the younger man finally lowers his hands from his face, Magnus’ words get stuck in his throat. Alec doesn’t look like he’s joking. He looks downright wrecked, like he has suddenly aged ten years during one night. His hands are shaking as he reaches for Magnus, touching his face, his chest, his shoulder. Alec’s touches are tentative, almost unsure, like he’s not convinced that Magnus is real.
“Tell me,” Magnus says, all traces of humor gone from his voice.
When Alec’s tale is over, Magnus is frowning.
“So what exactly triggers the next loop?”
Alec looks up at him for the first time since he started talking - so far his gaze was stuck to the wall or the ceiling, refusing to look at Magnus at all.
“You believe me?”
He sounds surprised and relieved, and Magnus can’t help but place a gentle hand on Alec’s cheek.
“Of course I believe you,” he says. “Besides, stranger things have happened.”
Alec is not sure he wants to know what is stranger than being stuck reliving the day your lover dies a tragic death.
“As far as I can tell, the loop resets at midnight. Sometimes I’m asleep by the time it happens but even if I’m not, I just wake up at six a.m. again.”
“And I am always dead at that point.”
“Yes,” Alec admits, his face twisting with grief as memory of Magnus turning into dust plays out in his mind again, “We go to the crypt and you die.”
“Well, that’s easy, then.” Magnus shrugs with one shoulder. He leans back onto his pillows since they’re still lying in bed. “We just won’t go. If we avoid interacting with the artifact, it should be enough to break the cycle.”
The universe finds a way to fix the course of fate. They are attacked by Valentine’s shadowhunters when they go for a walk in the evening. Alec ends up with a gut wound that makes him lose blood in a rapid pace. He doesn’t pay attention to it, though, too busy holding Magnus, who was ran through the chest with a seraph blade. Magnus holds Alec’s hand, his own palm slick with blood as he grows weaker. There’s blood on his lips as well as he whispers to Alec that everything is going to be alright.
Magnus dies. Alec’s blood loss makes him lose consciousness a minute or so later.
He wakes up to the sound of Beyoncé.
“I think it’s because I triggered the artifact,” Alec says after he explains the situation to Magnus - again. “Vincere maximem timorem - to overcome the greatest fear.” He shakes his head and takes a sip of the tea Magnus made him when he couldn’t stop trembling. “But I don’t know what that’s supposed to be.”
Magnus only hums, still digesting the fact that he he will most likely be dead in a couple of hours.
Alec is aware enough that he knows he has many insecurities and fears. He just doesn’t know which is the greatest. There’s the fear of losing his family, of being a disappointment, of never being good enough. And even if he could pinpoint the specific fear for the artifact to fixate on, how does one battle a fear of being a failure? How can he even start fixing any of this?
“It’s my fault.” Alec puts the fragile teacup safely on the coffee table, afraid that he will drop it with the way his hands shake. He doesn’t want to break anything else. “I killed you.”
“Alexander, no.” Magnus tugs him closer and Alec goes willingly, an unhappy sound falling from his lips. He lets Magnus hold him, both of the warlock’s arms around his shoulders, and he tucks his face in Magnus’ neck, breathing in deeply. “Darling, there was no way you could have known. I was there and I didn’t react, so it’s obvious that the magic was subtle and well-hidden. I should have spotted a trap like that from miles away. So it’s as much your fault as it is mine.”
“But it’s only you who pays for it.” Alec closes his eyes, relishing in the way Magnus is alive and warm and whole, the firmness of his body nothing like the cloud of choking dust he tried to embrace before.
“No,” Magnus says, “you ended up with the much worse deal, darling. I can’t even imagine losing you over and over again.”
They are quiet for a moment and Alec is content with letting Magnus hold him. He doesn’t want to move from this couch, ever, but he knows that fate will find a way to tear Magnus away from him in the end.
“We should go to the crypt.”
Alec makes a small noise of protest.
“No, I mean it.” Magnus lets Alec go and the nephilim has no choice but to lean away to look at Magnus. “If the artifact ends up killing me, I should examine it and try to learn as much about it as I can. So you can tell me - the next me - if there is any way to break the loop through use of magic.”
“But you’ll die.”
“From the sound of it, I’m going to die whether we go or not.” Magnus gives him a sad smile. “But maybe this way, I can find a way to stop this and spare you future heartache.”
They don’t learn a single thing.
The magic of the orb assaults them as soon as they set foot in the crypt and Magnus dies before he can even start his examination. It’s almost like the thing knew their intent, knew that they went in with a hope to break the spell.
As soon as the phone rings, Alec yanks it away from Magnus’ grip and tosses it hard against the wall, shattering the device to hundreds of pieces.
“Alec, what the fuck?” Magnus looks wide awake now, despite waking up just seconds before. He sounds more surprised than angry, which is a plus.
“I fucking hate this song.”
Alec convinces Magnus to stay in bed for the rest of the day. He hopes that if they don’t leave the apartment they will be safe.
The sex helps Alec forget. If he’s a little too desperate, a little too clingy, Magnus doesn’t say anything. His kisses are deeper, hungrier, like he can’t get enough of Magnus. The warlock eventually makes a joke that Alec should leave some energy for later and Alec doesn’t reply. He’s not sure there even will be a ‘later’.
They stay indoors, yes, but that doesn’t change anything. Magnus does some work for other clients while they laze around, research and what-not. He performs a summoning of what should be a minor demonic entity, only to learn that the client who provided him with the summoning scroll lied.
It’s a greater demon, one that is too much for Magnus to handle without real preparation. When it returns to its realm, it drags Magnus along with it.
The warlock doesn’t have a chance to finish that sentence before a punch knocks him sideways. The door to his house bangs against the wall, a sound loud enough to be mistaken for a gunshot. Before he can shake off the dizziness, there are hands grabbing him roughly by his jacket and yanking him up.
His back smashes into the wall, painfully enough to resonate through his entire frame and shit, there’s a glowing white blade at his throat.
“Daniel, right?” The nephilim who has him in his grip spits the words out like venom. His entire posture screams ‘danger’ to the warlock. He seems ready to strike at a slightest provocation, like a wild animal. “You and I need to have a little talk.”
“Whatever you want, man.”
Daniel most definitely doesn’t want to be the one who pokes the proverbial bear with a pointy stick.
“A couple hours ago you called the High Warlock for help with the wards on an artifact in your family’s crypt,” the shadowhunter says, “I need you to tell me everything you know about it.”
“Why? Did something happen?” Daniel asks, confused. “Where is Bane?”
The shadowhunter doesn’t reply, but his gaze flicks briefly to his hands and only then Daniel notices that they are covered in ash. Actually, he looks like he’s been rolling in the dust, his clothes are covered with the stuff as well.
“He’s dead,” the nephilim finally says through clenched teeth. He sounds like every word physically pains him. “Your artifact killed him. So you need to tell me what it is and how to stop it right now.”
“How to stop it?” Daniel repeats and it seems to be the wrong answer, since the angelic blade presses harder against his throat. “Look man, I don’t know anything!” Daniel spits out the words faster than he has ever talked in his life. “My family has been dealing with artifacts and magical instruments for years. It’s only one of many crypts we have, okay? We’re slowly going through it all but I don’t even know what’s in half of them! That’s why I asked Bane to take off the wards, so that I can figure out what this thing does!”
After his confession, the nephilim finally lets him go and the blade shifts away. Daniel raises a shaky hand to his throat. His fingers are wet with blood and only then does he realize that his skin was cut.
He wants to ask the shadowhunter if he is crazy, if he is trying to break the Accords, but the guy is already gone.
“How many times have you seen me die?”
Magnus’ question is quiet, like he’s a little afraid of the possible answer. Alec has just finished telling him about the loop and it’s something that gets harder and harder every time he has to do it.
“I’ve lost count by now.”
Which is a lie. Alec is perfectly aware that he has seen Magnus die twenty times by now, and before the day is over, that count will reach twenty one.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Alec gasps out as soon as Magnus tosses his phone on the end table after he hangs up on Daniel.
“Can’t do what, darling?” Magnus looks concerned. He doesn’t like the way Alec’s voice sounds.
“I need to go.” Alec gets up and starts pulling on the clothes he placed on one of the chairs before they went to bed.
Alec glances back over his shoulder to look at Magnus, whose expression is a mix of confusion, apprehension, and hurt. He doesn’t understand why Alec is acting like this, not after the spectacular night they had before. It’s not fair of Alec to punish him like this.
“I’m sorry,” Alec says as he leans down to place a quick but tender kiss on Magnus’ lips, “I just need to get some air. I’ll explain everything when I come back, okay?”
Magnus opens his mouth like he wants to protest, but closes it after a second. He nods, reaching out to give Alec’s hand a squeeze and Alec squeezes back.
Alec ends up walking for hours, without any real destination. He puts one foot in front of the other until he’s far away from Magnus’ apartment and the morning has shifted into afternoon. He knows that in a couple more hours Magnus will go to the crypt, whether Alec is there with him or not.
He stops, finally, at the foot of the Chrysler Building. He looks up.
Alec is pretty sure he’s going to end up crazy before the loop is over. There are only so many times that he can see Magnus die before he loses his mind. It doesn’t matter that he knows what’s going to happen - every single time is like a dagger pushing into his heart. He thought about not going to the crypt, about leaving for a day and not having to deal with witnessing the death, but he can’t do it. No matter how much it pains him, he is unable to reject Magnus’ hands as they reach for him when he turns into dust. He doesn’t want him to die alone, even if nobody but Alec will remember it.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Maybe Beyoncé knows something that Alec doesn’t.
Maybe he is already going crazy.
Alec takes his phone out of his pocket as he steps into the elevator that goes to the top floor of the Chrysler Building. Once he gets there, he makes sure that his glamour rune is activated - he doesn’t want to scare the mundanes. From there on, it’s a simple matter of using a couple of runes to open the normally locked doors and Alec is out on the roof.
He calls Magnus.
“Darling,” Magnus sounds worried when he picks up after just two rings, “where are you?”
“I need to tell you something,” Alec says. “I need you to know why I left.”
He starts from the beginning. He tells Magnus about the phone call from Daniel, about the crypt and the artifact, about his death, and about the multiple times he’s lived through it. He doesn’t spare any detail.
Magnus is very, very quiet during his tale. Alec knows that he believes him. He always does.
“Alexander,” Magnus finally finds his voice after a couple moments of silence growing between them, “I keep hearing wind blowing through your phone. Where are you?”
Alec sighs as he steps over the safety railing.
“Three weeks, Magnus,” He says. “Throughout the three weeks of me living the same day again and again, there is only one thing I haven’t tried that might break the loop.”
“Don’t.” Magnus sounds scared. Alec knows that the warlock is smart - he already figured out what Alec is about to do. “Please, Alexander, don’t do this.”
“I need to stop this,” Alec whispers as he steps onto the head of the giant eagle gargoyle that adorns the edge of the roof. “Worst case scenario, I will wake up again and you won’t remember what happened. But if it works… you will be safe.”
“Worst case scenario?” Magnus hisses into the phone, clearly angered. “I’ll tell you what my worst case scenario is! You leaving me alone after trading your life for mine! And my death isn’t even permanent!”
“I’m not going to wait for it to become permanent,” Alec says. “I’m not going to risk the loop ending after you’re already gone.”
“So you’re going to do this instead?” Magnus’ voice is breaking and, from the sounds of traffic on his side of the line, Alec can tell he’s outside as well. Probably looking at the rooftops of the nearby buildings for an off-chance that he will see Alec there. “You called me to explain that you need to kill yourself so that I can live? Is this your version of a goodbye letter? This isn’t fair, Alexander.”
“If this works, I didn’t want you to think that I was suicidal. I didn’t want to leave you without explanation, wondering what happened to me.” Alec lowers his gaze to the streets below, his chest growing tight with grief. The wind whips around him, tugging at his clothes and messing up his hair. “I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”
“Then don’t,” Magnus gasps out, his voice breaking and his tone pleading. “Please, love, we can figure this out. I know we can. It might take a couple more tries, but you and me - some version of me - can find a solution. You don’t need to do this.”
Alec is not sure if he can take a couple more ‘versions of him’.
“Please.” Magnus sounds wrecked and it’s a horrible sound. Alec has never heard him so desperate, so broken. Magnus should never, ever be reduced to begging and Alec is the one forcing him to do it.
“Magnus,” Alec says, quietly, trying to get the warlock’s attention. It doesn’t work at first and Magnus is still pleading with him. “Magnus!”
“What?” The warlock finally croaks out and Alec closes his eyes for a second, his heart aching at the wounded tone of Magnus’ voice.
He knows it’s not fair, what he is about to say. He knows it will only end up hurting Magnus more if he manages to break the loop by what he’s doing, but he doesn’t want to end it without telling Magnus the truth.
And if the loop continues, he knows Magnus won’t even remember it.
“I love you.”
It’s the first time he’s ever said it.
“Alexander--” Magnus chokes out once he regains his voice, but Alec is already pressing the disconnect button on his phone and tosses the device behind him where it clatters on the roof.
He takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and steps off the edge.
Alec wakes up at six fifteen a.m. to the sound of Beyoncé and Magnus’ quiet cursing.
He turns on his side and hides his face in a pillow as he screams.
Alec leaves the apartment as soon as Magnus picks up the phone and doesn’t come back. He leaves his own mobile behind and takes a bus out of the city. The loop ends at midnight and he doesn’t want to know what killed Magnus this time.
He tells Magnus he needs to run an errand first before they go to the crypt. The lies are almost easy by now. Alec goes alone and stands over the artifact, staring at it for a long moment.
“What do you want from me?” He asks and expects the orb to react somehow, but it does nothing. It’s indifferent to Alec’s pain. The shiny gold-black surface doesn’t change, only shimmers gently in the weak light, like it always does.
He takes it from its elevated podium and it’s nothing like he expects. He thought it would be cold and slimy, but it’s actually warm. It makes his skin tingle, almost like it has a power resonating from within.
Alec tries to break it, smashing his seraph blade on it over and over until his hands hurt too much to hold the handle anymore. The orb still looks untouched, not a single scratch on it. Then he tries to burn it with a rune etched on the podium, but apart from setting the crypt on fire, it changes nothing.
“I don’t know what to do.”
Alec is sitting on the floor next to Izzy’s bed, his back against the frame. He’s not facing her, unable to look at her as he finishes his story. He doesn’t know if she’ll believe him or not, but he needs her. He needs to be close to someone and it can’t be Magnus - he’s already dust on Alec’s clothes.
He can feel her shifting on the bed and after a moment she’s sitting next to him. Izzy starts running her fingers through his hair and he sighs before leaning sideways a little bit and resting his head against her bare thigh. Her skin is so very warm. She was getting ready for bed when he barged into her room. She’s dressed only in a pair of panties and a t-shirt, her wet hair in a messy bun. Alec certainly saw her in less on more than one occasion. Her black t-shirt is too big for her, falling off one shoulder and Alec is pretty sure it’s one of his.
“You want to know what I think?” Izzy asks. He just hums in agreement, his gaze darting towards the electronic clock on her nightstand. It’s going to be midnight in couple of minutes. “I think the loop won’t end until you face the thing you fear the most.”
“I figured that part out already,” he admits, “I just don’t know what it is that I’m supposed to overcome.”
“Well… You have spent all those days trying to find a way to save Magnus.” She hesitates. “Maybe it’s time for you to stop.”
His head comes up sharply enough to make her flinch and yank her hand back.
“Your fear. I know you don’t lose sleep over your own death, neither of us do. It can’t be losing family, because we don’t have any parts to play in your original loop. The only constant is Magnus’ death.”
“So I’m afraid of him dying?” Alec asks. “That doesn’t make sense. I saw him die thirty times by now and it hurts, every single time, but how is that supposed to help me overcome that fear?”
“I think,” she’s speaking slowly, trying to find the right words, “it might be something about his immortality.”
Before she has a chance to elaborate, the clock strikes midnight and the loop resets once more.
The thing is, Izzy’s words make sense to him.
The relationship between him and Magnus is still fairly new. Alec knows that the issue of immortality got pushed away for the time being, but it’s something that’s always in the back of his mind. He knows that Magnus will outlive him, that all of his lifespan is nothing compared to the length of the life of a warlock.
So yes, Alec is aware of all of that.
What he doesn’t know is which part he’s actually afraid of. Maybe it’s the idea that he is going to leave Magnus alone when he eventually dies (in that case his stunt from Chrysler Building seems especially cruel). Or it’s the realization that in one hundred, two hundred years, Magnus might not even remember his name. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t feel like his life is important.
Perhaps Izzy is right. If he lets go, if he stops fighting and just lives his life one day at the time, the loop might break.
But he’s not sure if he can do it. Letting everything play out. Not avoiding the inevitable.
Letting Magnus die.
This time what kills Magnus is a shax demon taking him by surprise, much like what happened to Ragnor. Alec holds him when he bleeds out, the cut on his throat so deep it takes only seconds for it to be over.
A magic spell gone wrong, backfiring against Magnus, stopping his heart upon impact.
It’s the most mundane way to go, Alec thinks. A hit-and-run.
Alec is done.
“You win,” he whispers as he sits down, his back against the wall of the crypt. He rubs his fingers together, trying to brush away the ash that covers them. He looks at the podium and the orb resting on it. Alec finds it hard to believe that such small thing can be the cause of such great grief.
“I’ve tried everything.” Alec looks down at his hands and in the past he would have cried, but he is already out of tears. They are all used up by now. “So you win.”
He stops fighting.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Magnus asks after he tosses his phone away. “Do I have something on my face?”
They are lying on their sides. Alec reaches out to wrap his hand around the back of Magnus’ neck and pulls him in for a kiss. It’s slow and loving, just brushing their mouths together. Alec nips at Magnus’ bottom lip, worries it between his teeth a little before kissing it better. Magnus sighs, a happy and pleased sound that Alec would be glad to listen to for the rest of his life.
“Not that I’m complaining,” Magnus chuckles as they break apart, “but what was that for?”
One of Alec’s hands is cradling Magnus’ slightly bristly cheek. They are still so close to each other that Alec can feel Magnus’ breath washing warmly over his lips and he knows that it would be the easiest thing in the world to close the distance between them again and kiss him again.
He lets his eyes roam over Magnus’ face, taking in the messy hair, the still sleepy gaze, the tiny laugh wrinkles around the corners of his eyes.
“I love you,” Alec says and this time it’s easy to admit, an effortless confession that he knows he should have made a long time ago. It’s not the first time he has said it (not anymore) but it’s the first time Magnus hears it.
Magnus’ eyes widen and his breath catches and Alec thinks that this expression of bewilderment looks good on Magnus. He’s not sure if there are many things that can still surprise the warlock.
“You don’t have to say it back,” Alec says after a moment of stunned silence. He means it. He knows that it can’t be easy for Magnus. He has loved in the past and it always ended with heartache. Magnus is always so careful with him, not pushing Alec’s boundaries, letting him set the pace and dictate the terms of their relationship. Alec wants to return the favor and not force Magnus towards something he’s not comfortable with. “I just wanted you to know.”
Alec doesn’t really expect a reply and he’s surprised when Magnus reaches out to push him until he’s flat on his back. The next time he blinks, Magnus is already straddling him and leaning in to kiss him. Alec allows it (how could he not?), content with letting Magnus explore his mouth.
When the warlock leans back his gold and green eyes are shining with happiness and love and so many other emotions that it makes Alec’s breath catch.
They are running late. Usually they go to the crypt in late afternoon, but this time it’s near midnight. They were distracted, obviously, with other tasks that needed to be done. And with expressing emotions. And the love-making that came right afterwards.
Just before they enter the crypt Alec stops Magnus, gently pushing him against the mausoleum wall and kissing the living daylight out of him again. It starts intense but gradually calms down, until it’s just lazy and sweet - a gentle exchange that doesn’t telegraph lust and desire, but love and affection instead.
“What is with you today?” Magnus smiles as they separate, his lips brushing warmly over Alec’s cheek.
“Nothing,” Alec says and his arms around Magnus’ waist give the warlock a tiniest squeeze, “I’m just done wasting time.”
“Darling,” Magnus laughs as they enter the crypt, one of his hands holding Alec’s own, their fingers woven together tightly, “we have all the time in the world.”
Alec just hums in agreement. It’s not exactly untrue.
The moment Magnus places his hands in the air above the orb, Alec braces himself for what is about to come.
Nothing he has done for the past month changed a single thing. Nothing stops the inevitable death that comes before the end of the day. Alec is tired of fighting against fate, of trying to beat the odds, of playing the role of Sisyphus and trying to accomplish the impossible.
The only thing he wants to do now is hold Magnus. He wants to wake up with the warlock safe and sound again, even if just for a day. He wants to keep repeating those three words that make Magnus’ face light up with happiness.
“Huh,” Magnus mumbles under his breath, “that’s weird.”
This is not what Alec expected.
“What?” Alec frowns, not sure which variation of the death will play out this time. He doesn’t remember this happening before.
“I think Daniel told me about wrong artifact.” Before Alec can protest, Magnus reaches out and plucks the orb from its resting place. “This thing doesn’t have any wards on it, or any kind of magical signature at all. If it ever had any, it’s long dead by now.”
Alec thinks his heart stops for a second.
“I need some air,” Alec chokes out as he turns on his heels and stumbles up the stairs into the upper part of the crypt and then outside. Once there, he takes deep, shaky breaths that do nothing to calm him down. All he can hear is the sound of his own blood, the rushing boom of thumping in his ears. There isn’t enough air around him and he falls to his knees, his fingers digging into the wet grass beneath him.
“Shhh.” The quiet voice in his ear drowns out the drumming beat, and the arm that wraps around his shoulders is warm and strong and alive. “It’s alright, love. It’s alright.”
Magnus obviously doesn’t know what’s wrong with him and Alec probably is scaring the crap out of him right now.
“What time is it?” Alec squeezes his eyes shut, trying to force his lungs in to breathing normally, which is a little ridiculous. Even newborn babies know how to do it and here he is, struggling to take a breath.
Magnus frowns, but takes out his phone from his pocket and turns the screen on.
“It’s five minutes after midnight. Why?”
Alec hears a sudden, wounded kind of noise that sounds pitiful and a little crazy and after a moment he realizes it’s coming from him. Magnus keeps calling his name, his tone scared and a bit frantic and Alec’s whine shifts into laughter. It’s an ugly, distressed sound broken up with great, heaving gulps of air that he can’t get enough of.
It takes some time for him to calm down, for his breathing to even out. Magnus keeps holding him as he waits for Alec to pull himself back together.
“I need to tell you something,” Alec finally gasps out, sinking into Magnus’ embrace when he suddenly feels boneless and wrung out.
He tells Magnus everything.
Beyonce’s voice is the first thing he hears when he wakes up.
Alec can’t even blink. His heart freezes along with him as he listens to Magnus’ cursing and then the ringing stops.
Magnus’ voice is quiet but urgent, and after a moment Alec turns his head a little towards the warlock.
“Look at the clock.”
He doesn’t understand why Magnus is asking him that, this isn’t a part of the routine. But he does as he’s told and shifts his gaze to the clock on the opposite side of the bedroom.
It’s nine a.m.
“I knew I should have changed my ringtone,” Magnus mumbles, more to himself than to Alec. “I’m sorry, darling. It’s okay, you’re okay.”
Magnus’ hands are wiping his cheeks gently and fuck, Alec didn’t even notice the tears falling down, too mortified by the idea of still being stuck in one timeline.
“I love you,” Alec whispers, looking in Magnus’ eyes. He needs to say it. He needs to say it every single day, in case it’s the last day they will ever have together. He needs Magnus to hear it, so that he can never forget it again.
“Did you--” He frowns. “Did you just quote Star Wars at me?”
Magnus smirks, running his fingers through Alec’s fringe, brushing it back.
“I knew that the Sunday movie marathons would pay off one day.”
Alec opens his mouth to say something and then closes it again, unable to find words.
“I love you too, Alexander.”
It’s the first time he hears it.
Magnus is smiling now; a small, genuine smile. It looks almost shy, like Magnus isn’t sure if his admission is welcome or not. Like he never had much practice with saying it back.
And now Alec is sure that the pattern is broken for real, that this is a new day. How it goes will not be dictated by fate, but only by their own actions.
Alec vows to himself that he isn’t going to waste it.
Not this, nor any other day that will come.