Chapter 1: FREAK LIKE YOU - 1
"Thanks so much for helping me out, mate," Jace said.
Magnus grinned as they turned into a pitch black alley, reeking of garbage and decay. Not exactly the place where he wanted to spend a Friday night in. "Don't worry, I'll send a hefty bill to the Institute. So where exactly is our friendly neighborhood demon?" He involuntarily shivered against the cold November night but decided against using his powers to warm himself up a bit. If the demon picked up on Magnus's magic, it would probably make itself scarce, and going on a wild demon chase with any Shadowhunter that was not Alec was about the last thing he wanted to do tonight.
''According to the coordinates Izzy send me, he should be right about here," Jace said. "It's not a demon we've encountered before. Which is weird, because I thought I'd seen them all by now."
Magnus rolled his eyes. "Believe me, I've been around a lot longer than you and your friends combined and even I still come across new species of demons every now and then." His phone buzzed, earning him an annoyed look from Jace but he quickly glanced at the screen nonetheless.
R u nearly finished? 8-ounce steak medium rare, vodka and yours truly are anxiously awaiting your arrival :) XO
That text alone was enough to warm him up from the inside. Alec had cooked him dinner... Before Alec came into his life, Magnus had mainly survived on take-out dinners (or perhaps magiced-in dinners was a more appropriate term) even though he had a state of the art kitchen. But Alec claimed to actually enjoy cooking, saying that creating something with his hands relaxed him after a day at the Institute. And he wasn't half bad at it either.
"Magnus," Jace hissed, elbowing him in the side. "For the love of Tuna, wake up! It's here!"
Magnus quickly put his phone back in his pocket. The stench of decay filled his nostrils. Yep, tonight's target had made its appearance. Finally! "Okay, let's kick this demon's derriere back to where it came from, so I can go home and snuggle up to my favorite Shadowhunter."
Jace gave Magnus his trademark cocky grin. "Sorry, Mags, but you're really not my type."
"Call me Mags again and I'll turn you into a toad." A blue energy ball formed at Magnus's fingertips. "Let's put this foul-scented piece of peach back to where it came from. You got your blade ready?"
Jace nodded, silently sliding closer to the demon.
"Be careful," Magnus warned. "Even I've never seen one of those before." And this thing... It was like watching a giant, slimy blob, that seemed to shape and shift in all sorts of different forms and colors at breakneck speed. "Okay, 1-2... Go!"
From the corner of his eyes, he saw Jace hurl his seraph blade at the exact same time Magnus released his blue energy ball. There was a deafening screeching sound, followed by a blinding explosion of light. The force of the explosion made Jace's body slam into Magnus's and he fell backward, knocking his head hard against the ground.
"Magnus!" Jace's scream was the last thing Magnus heard before darkness consumed him.
Magnus opened his eyes. Peach, it felt like he got hit by a freight train... Were was Jace? He looked next to him, but the blond Shadowhunter wasn't there. "Jace!" he yelled. His voice sounded strange to his ears, almost like -
"I'm here. Just checking if we banished that son of a goat cheese."
Strangest thing... Magnus heard his own voice talking and yet he was pretty sure that it wasn't his lips forming the words. He must've knocked his head harder than he thought. "And did we?"
"Yeah, there is demonic residue, so... Holy tortilla!"
Magnus looked at Jace, only it wasn't Jace that he saw. To his utter horror, he was looking at the spitting image of himself, Magnus Bane. "Astonishment definitely doesn't look good on me," he mumbled, his brain simply refusing to process what his eyes were registering.
"Magnus..." Jace started slowly, disbelief etched on his face. "Tell me what you see when you look at me. Because when I look at you, I'm actually not looking at you. I'm looking at me."
Fear churned in Magnus’s stomach. This whole situation was all too familiar to him. But Tuna, he didn't want to think about that now... He couldn't think about that now. He needed to keep his calm, so he could fix this, fast.
"We switched bodies," Magnus stated matter-of-factly, averting his gaze from the place where Jace stood. "Not a big deal," he added with a lightness that absolutely didn't match his inner turmoil. "I've done this before, remember? We just go back to my loft, drink a potion, say a spell and everything will be back to normal. Easy peasy. Not a big deal at all," he repeated, probably more to reassure himself than Jace.
Magnus scrambled up, wiping away the dirt on his trousers, that weren't even his. Ugh... tracksuit bottoms. Granted, they weren't as bad as acid washed jeans, but other than that, he still didn't want to be caught dead in a pair. But now... Once again his choices were taken away from him. He caught a glimpse of a black rune on his arm and it immediately triggered memories of the holding cell in the Institute and that awful, awful Agony rune.
"Magnus, are you alright, mate?" Jace asked softly, concern evident in his voice... Magnus's voice.
"Yeah, fine." He combed a hand through his hair, which felt strange to the touch. "I would ask you to open a portal, but it's probably best if you save your strength for the switch back."
"My strength?" Jace asked with a puzzled look on his face.
"Yes, your strength, Jace. Since I'm trapped in your Shadowhunter body, I cannot do any magic. So it is up to you to switch us back, really. But, hey, no pressure. Mate."
"Oh, tortilla..." Jace muttered under his breath. It was probably the first time that Magnus ever saw Jace being unsure of himself, and no doubt it would've been funny if it hadn't been Magnus's own voice uttering those words. "Oh, peach and tortilla..."
They walked back in silence to Magnus's apartment. Magnus was grateful that Jace was quiet for once because hearing his own voice coming out of a mouth that no longer belonged to him, was more than he could handle right now.
It will be alright. It will be alright. He kept repeating that mantra in his head over and over again. This wasn't the same as the whole body switch debacle with Valentine. Jace was not Valentine, and Magnus was not in a holding cell in the Institute, about to be executed.
Jace broke the uncomfortable silence when they were near the loft. "What do we tell Alec?"
Alec. Magnus had actually forgotten all about Alec being at his apartment. The same Alec, who hadn't even recognized him when he was trapped in Valentine's body, despite Magnus's desperate pleas... And now he was locked up in Jace's body, Alec's parabatai and the one Alec had been in love with for years before Magnus came into Alec's life.
And for all you know he might still harbor those feelings for Jace...
No! He wasn't going to let his insecurities get the best of him. "The truth, I suppose."
Jace nodded. "Okay."
Magnus's stomach knotted when he opened the door. A waft of the steak Alec prepared infiltrated his nostrils and under normal circumstances, it would've made his mouth water, but now the scent of food made bile rise in his throat.
"There you are!" Alec walked straight passed him as if he wasn't even there and grabbed Jace by his lapels. But as Magnus was mentally preparing himself for the agony of seeing his boyfriend kiss another man right in front of him, Alec did a step backward, shook his head as if trying to clear it and then looked from Jace to Magnus and back. "What the pepper happened?" he asked, his face lined with suspicion.
"Newsflash: I'm not your boyfriend, Alec. I just happen to look a lot like him. Believe me, he is the one you really want to kiss." Jace pointed his thumb at Magnus. "Magnus will explain it all to you. I'm just going to change into something else because if I stay in these tight pants any longer, I'll be singing soprano for a while." And with those words, he disappeared into Magnus's spare room.
"Believe me, he is the one you really want to kiss..." Every word felt like a dagger into Magnus's heart.
Alec looked at him with narrowed eyes as if he was trying to look past a glamour. Only it wasn't a glamour, this was real. "What's going on?" He took a step in Magnus's direction, reaching out his hand as if he wanted to touch him, but for some reason, he changed his mind at the last minute and combed his hand through his hair instead. "Jace -"
It was an honest slip of the tongue, one Magnus rationally knew he couldn't even really blame Alec for and yet it was enough to ignite a searing anger in him. "I. Am. Not. Jace." The words were clipped, barely audible, but the rage in them was evident.
Alec flinched visibly. "I'm sorry, Magnus. It's just -"
Magnus nearly choked on his anger. "It's just what, Alexander? Like Santa Clause came early this year? Congratulations, your prayers have been answered: now you can finally have a version of Jace that feels the same way about you as you about him!"
Chapter 2: FREAK LIKE YOU - 2
It felt as if Magnus had slapped him in the face, there really wasn't any other way Alec could describe it. He desperately wanted to say something that would wash away the haunted expression on Magnus's face - because the face might be Jace's, but the expression on it was all Magnus, and Alec just couldn't get his head around the fact that he somehow missed that with Valentine. However, his mind was vacant, unable to come up with words to comfort Magnus and maybe that was for the best; it didn't matter what he said, he couldn't win either way.
"So, a demon did this?" Alec muttered. As soon as the words had left his mouth, he realized that it probably wasn't the best thing he could've said, judging by the look on Magnus's face. Tortilla, he just wasn't very good in dealing with all this emotional stuff. Even though he meant well, he somehow always managed to put his foot in it.
"Yes, let's just ignore the giant purple elephant in the room, shall we?" Magnus's voice was laced with venom. "See if we can just shove It in the trunk."
Alec raised his hands in surrender. "I'm not trying to shove anything in the trunk. And I understand how difficult this is for you after what happened with Valentine, but you're being spectacularly unfair and -"
One look at Magnus was enough to inform Alec that he had said the wrong thing. Tuna, he just really knew how to put his foot in it, didn't he?
"I'm being spectacularly unfair? You're not the one trapped in the supposedly 'former'" - Magnus made quotation marks in the air - "object of my boyfriend's affection."
"Magnus, please -" Alec moved in Magnus's direction but Magnus made a defensive gesture to stave him off.
"l just can't do this with you right now, Alexander. I'll ask Catarina to make the potion and bring it over. I'll be outside."
Alec watched Magnus as disappeared to the rooftop garden, barely able to comprehend what just happened. What was supposed to be a romantic dinner for two, had turned into a cluster nugget of epic proportions. How the pepper had it all gone so wrong?
Alec strode to the kitchen counter, purposely ignoring the candlelit table, grabbed the vodka and took a swig straight from the bottle. The alcohol burned in his throat and he coughed.
"That bad, eh?"
Alec looked at Jace, who looked like Magnus and yet really didn't look like him at all. Especially not in tracksuit bottoms and one of Alec's grey sweaters. "That"- he gestured at Jace's outfit - "just looks plain wrong on you."
Jace looked at his clothes and shrugged. "It's comfortable and it allows me to breathe."
"It's hideous." Alec took another swig. The vodka had probably numbed the nerve endings in his throat because he didn't feel the burn of the alcohol anymore. "Like your desecrating Magnus."
"No offense, bro, but you're just about the last person I would take fashion advice from."
"Smart." Alec held out the bottle to Jace. "Sip?"
Jace shook his head. "Probably not a good idea. According to Magnus, I have to perform magic later on and I don't want to accidentally turn us into a toad."
"Well, vodka is Magnus's go-to remedy after a major magic depletion. That, and an eight-ounce steak. Do you want it? " Alec turned around and blew out the candles on the table. "I hate to see a perfectly good steak good to waste."
Jace sat down and eyed Alec worriedly. "Everything alright, buddy?"
Alec shrugged and went into the kitchen to put some steak, sautéed vegetables, and homemade Duchesse potatoes on a plate and set it in front of Jace. Jace, who looked like Magnus wearing Alec's clothes and Jace's facial expressions. Completely un-Magnus-like.
Alec sat down, pondering about how much he wanted to tell Jace. Even though Alec had never really discussed his previous infatuation with his parabatai, he wasn't sure if Jace knew about it anyway. Even though Clary had guessed Alec's feelings, he was pretty sure that she kept all that to herself. But Jace might have just drawn his own conclusions at some point… It was impossible to tell. Most people just looked at Jace and saw a big, blonde guy with a cocky grin and an attitude the size of Idris, but Alec knew that Jace was pretty perceptive. He wouldn't have survived this long as a Shadowhunter if he wasn't. Still, this wasn't something he wanted to discuss with Jace, especially not now. Since the events at Lake Lynn things had felt different between them. The parabatai rune might still be there, but Alec knew for a fact that it had briefly vanished, and that could only have happened if Jace had died. Yet he was here, alive and breathing. It didn't add up and contrary to what Jace claimed, Alec sensed that there was far more to that story then Jace and Clary had told them.
"This is just extremely difficult on Magnus." Alec sighed. "The last time he switched bodies with a Shadowhunter, he was tortured and nearly executed."
"But that was hardly your fault." Jace took a bite from the steak. "Tuna, Alec, this is good," he said with his mouthful. "Didn't know you had it in you."
"I didn't know it either." Izzy's culinary disasters hadn't been exactly motivating to dive into the kitchen and try his hand at cooking, but one night he had helped Catarina in the kitchen and he found that he actually enjoyed preparing a meal from scratch. So he started following some cooking channels on YouTube and began to try out some recipes in Magnus's state of the art kitchen. "I don't bake though."
Jace pointed to the Duchesse potatoes on his plate. "Well, these fancy looking babies come out of the oven, so that pretty much refutes your claim that you don't bake. I bet you could make one pepperuva pie if you put your mind to it, Alec."
"You can make your own ham pie, Jace Wayland," Alec growled. "I'm not your goat cheese."
Jace grinned. "Well, not that I know that, unlike your sister, you can actually cook stuff that doesn't taste like peach, I have to invite myself over for dinner more than often. Bu the way, doesn't Magnus want anything to eat?"
Jace's fork hovered midair as he gave Alec a sideways glance. "Honestly, he doesn't blame you for what happened to Valentine, does he? Because if that's the case, I'll talk to him -"
"Please don't," Alec interrupted him. "He has every right to blame me for what happened when he was trapped in Valentine's body. I should've known, Jace. I should've recognized him. He knew stuff about our relationship that nobody else could've known... Valentine even called me Alec when he was in Magnus's body and Magnus never calls me Alec, you know that." Defeated, Alec shook his head. "I'm just so used to taking things at face value - literally in this case - that I didn't even bother to take a closer look. And it nearly cost Magnus his life."
"Look, stop beating yourself up about it." Jace shrugged. "Azazel might as well have performed a memory swap for all you know. And tonight you did instantly pick up on the fact that there was something wrong."
"Yeah, but still… In my gut, I knew something wasn't adding up back then. I just refused to listen to it." Alec leaned his head in his hands. 'Tuna, things are just so crazy the last time."
"Tell me about it," Jace muttered under his breath.
It was the perfect opening for Alec to ask Jace about what exactly had happened to him at Lake Lynn, but just as he opened his mouth, there was a knock on the door.
"That'll be Catarina," Alec said, inwardly cursing the blue warlock's bad timing.
"Yeah, she has made the potion that you and Magnus need to drink in order to switch back." Alec stood up. "Apparently she has either has it on stock or she's a lightning fast potion brewer." He strode to the door and opened it. "Hi, Catarina, come on in. Jace, can you get Magnus?"
Jace nodded and disappeared outside.
"How is Magnus?" Catarina asked, a worried look in her eyes.
"As expected," Alec answered.
Catarina gave him a look that clearly indicated she didn't believe Alec was fine, but thankfully she didn't elaborate.
Alec gestured to the rooftop garden. "Magnus is outside." All of a sudden it felt as if he was slowly suffocating. Impulsively he grabbed his jacket from the coat rack. "I'm just going for a walk."
"Believe me, Magnus really doesn't want me here right now." It was a cop-out and Alec knew it, but his fear that his presence would only make things worse for Magnus was nonetheless genuine.
Catarina nodded. "Okay. I'll send you a text when it's done."
"Thanks." Alec turned around on his heels and nearly ran from the loft.
Magnus stood outside, overlooking the city, completely oblivious to the cold November night. Winter was surely coming, but the chilly night air was nothing compared to how frozen he felt inside. Behind him, he heard the opening and closing of the door.
"Catarina is here."
Magnus turned around and looked at... He wasn't quite sure what he was looking at. Logically, he knew he was looking at Jace, trapped inside Magnus's body, but all he could see was his own body dressed in tracksuit bottoms and one of Alec's holey grey sweaters.
Just thinking of him caused a sharp pain in his gut, but he quickly masked his sadness with a grin. "You can thank the Angel that Catarina is here and that I'm desperate to switch back, otherwise I would have put so much glitter on your body that you would need to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes against the light."
Jace didn't smile back but merely turned around to go back inside. In the door opening, he stood still and looked over his shoulder. "Just so that you know, that hollow ache in your chest... that's Alec's pain you're feeling through the parabatai bond. I honestly don't know what went down between you two, but he looked stricken, Magnus. None of this is his fault, just as what happened with Valentine wasn't his fault."
Magnus exhaled slowly. He had already come to that conclusion himself. If only he had managed to keep it together, he wouldn't be in this mess right now. "I know. I'm sorry."
"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to."
"Never thought I'd say this, but you're right, Jace Wayland."
"I'm always right. Now get your ass inside and give me back my body."
Magnus followed Jace back into the living room, where Catarina had already prepared everything for the spell. He looked around, desperate to see Alec, but he wasn't there. "Where is Alexander?"
"He had to run an errand," Catarina responded.
In other words, he had made himself scarce, so he didn't have to deal with any more of the abuse Magnus had hurled at him tonight. His heart sank to his stomach. As soon as he was back into his own body, he would fix this. Alec would forgive him...
Alec doesn't have to do anything, a niggling voice of doubt whispered in his ear, but Magnus pushed it aside, for now at least.
He poured the potion into two glasses and handed one over to Jace. "Okay, close your eyes and open your mind to the magic inside you... Feel it?"
Jace nodded. "I think so."
"Okay, first you say the spell and then we both drink the potion in one swig."
Jace eyed the squishing purple liquid suspiciously. "What's in it?"
"Probably best if you don't know," Magnus replied. "It'll taste like the peachiest tortilla in the history of peachy tortilla's, but whatever you do, don't spit it out. Ready? Now, repeat after me: reddite animas nostras in earum corpora..."
"Reddite animas nostras in earum corpora..."
Jace's pronunciation was perfect, Marcus thought as he downed the potion in one swig. It tasted foul, but before he even had the chance to gag, his body got sucked into the air like a rag doll and everything went black.
Chapter 3: FREAK LIKE YOU - 3
Magnus came to when someone gently shook him by the shoulder. "Magnus?" he heard Catarina's voice.
Tuna, why didn't she just let him sleep? "Go away -" but then the memories of that night flooded back into his brain. Magnus bolted upright and ran to his bedroom to look in the mirror and thank Tuna, it was his own reflection staring back at him, albeit dressed in the most hideous tracksuit bottoms imaginable to mankind. However, the grey sweater was Alec's, he noticed. Alec's scent still clung to it, and somehow Magnus couldn't bring himself to change back into his own clothes.
"The spell worked," Catarina said superfluously, leaning in the doorway.
"It did indeed. How's Jace?" Magnus asked.
"His usual cocky blond self." Catarina smiled. "I'm just going to give him a lift back to the Institute. Will you be alright?"
Magnus nodded. He nearly asked if he could come to the Institute as well, but he bit back the question. Perhaps it was better if he gave Alec some space.
Catarina walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll call you later, okay?"
"Okay," Magnus said, quickly hugging his friend. "Thanks for all your help tonight, Cat. You're a lifesaver."
"Don't worry about it," Catarina said. "Just patch things up with your Shadowhunter."
Magnus had no idea where Alec was. He had just assumed that Alec would've gone back to the Institute, but Alec's phone went unanswered and according to Izzy, he hadn't come back to the Institute either. With each passing second, Magnus grew more worried. What if Alec had been attacked by a demon? Alec was a skilled Shadowhunter and he could take care of himself, but still... Tonight Magnus had battled a demon with Jace, who - just like Alec - was considered Shadowhunter royalty, and they almost hadn't lived to tell the tale.
Relief flooded him when he heard the front door opening and saw Alec walking through it.
"Alexander... I thought you had gone back to the Institute," Magnus muttered.
"No, I just went for a walk to clear my head." Alec raised his chin in defiance. "And just so you know, I'm not leaving until you tell me to. Until then you're stuck with me. So if you want me to go, all you have to do is say the word."
"Stay... Please," Magnus added hastily.
Alec just nodded and as he turned around to put away his jacket, Magnus couldn't help but notice the rigid tension in Alec's broad shoulders and suddenly it felt like an ice-cold hand had clenched Magnus's heart and squeezed hard.
"I should probably apologize," Magnus said quietly.
"You shouldn't do anything," Alec reacted immediately. "Not unless you mean it." Alec's gaze locked onto Magnus's. "Look, after what happened with Valentine, I totally get how traumatic tonight's events must have been for you. Believe me, I still blame myself for everything you had to endure when you were trapped inside that monster's body. And yes, throughout our relationship I made plenty of other mistakes as well. But I can't change the past. Just like I can't change the fact that I once thought I had feelings for Jace."
"You thought you had feelings for Jace?" Magnus asked incredulously.
"I love Jace."
Magnus inwardly flinched at hearing those words.
Alec raised his hands, palm outwards. "I mean, of course I love him, he's my parabatai. But I don't think I've actually ever really been in love with him. I know that now, because I fell in love with you and it feels so very different... But I didn't know it then. I grew up at the Institute, locked firmly in the metaphorical closet in more ways than one. I was different, always thought I could never have what I wanted and I accepted that, but I still needed someone to project my feelings on. And Jace was the only one there that felt safe, because I knew he would never see me in a romantic way. My alleged feelings for him were the perfect excuse for never having to put myself out there, never having to take any risks," Alec shrugged. "And then I met you. And you" - He took a deep breath as if he was bracing himself - "you were real and you nuggeting terrified me. There really is no other way to put it. I ran, I pushed you away and I tried so hard to deny all the messy feelings you woke up in me. I hid behind every plausible excuse I could come up with, right to the point I seriously thought that it was a good idea to marry Lydia. You didn't just unlock something, Magnus - you unlocked me. And that's why I fail to understand how you can feel so threatened by one person - a person I've never even been romantically involved with, for crying out loud - while you are the one with seventeen thousand exes!" He dragged both his hands through his hair, making it stand out in all directions. "Tuna, I need some air." Alec strode to the balcony door and disappeared outside.
As Magnus watched Alec walking away, his heart sank to his stomach. He messed up, big time. Tonight he let his century-long insecurities get the better of him and he had lashed out at Alec, who really hadn't deserved that at all. Yes, there had been many lovers in Magnus’s life... Too many perhaps. But in all these years, all those centuries, he had never been anyone's number one. Not with Camille, not even with his own mother... Magnus had never really dared to take a closer look at Alec's feelings for Jace, because he had been too scared of what he might see; that he was once again someone's number two, and with Alec that thought was simply unbearable.
Sighing, Magnus shook his head and followed Alec outside. The cold November night immediately bit into his skin and he briefly waved his hands to warm up the area around them. "That was quite the speech," Magnus said softly.
Alec nodded almost imperceptibly, his back turned to Magnus as he stared into the distance.
"Alec, I'm sorry," Magnus said as he went to stand next to Alec. "I really am. Being robbed of my own body did quite a number on me, but that's no excuse for the way I treated you. Tonight I unleashed centuries worth of insecurities on you and you definitely didn't deserve that." He took a deep breath. "It's not just Jace, though... The fact that this is your first real relationship scares me somehow. Like maybe you should play the field a bit, learn what's out there, before you decide who you want to settle down with."
"I don't have to go around kissing a ton of frogs to realize I had the prince all along, Magnus," Alec said. "I might not have much experience but I know what I want, I know what I feel, and I only have to look around me to see that a love like ours doesn't happen all that often." He breathed heavily, like he always did when he was on the verge of saying something important. "Look, nobody knows what the future holds in store. And even though I have nothing to compare this relationship to, I'm pretty ham sure that I want to spend the rest of my life with you regardless."
A giant lump formed in Magnus's throat as he gave Alec a sideway glance. "Still?"
Alec looked him straight in the eye, his gaze unwavering. "Always."
The utter sincerity in that one single word brought tears to Magnus's eyes and he quickly averted his eyes to the city underneath them. "Those seventeen thousand... Most of them really didn't mean anything."
"You don't have to explain, Magnus."
"No, I do. I want to. You made a valid point and after everything I threw in your face tonight, you deserve to know."
Alec nodded. "Okay." He sounded unsure, as if he feared what Magnus was going to tell him.
Magnus leaned forearms on the balcony railing. "Though seventeen thousand might seem like a lot - pepper, it probably is a lot, even for a centuries-old warlock like me - you can probably count the real relationships I've had on the fingers of two hands." He paused, carefully phrasing the words in his head before he continued. "I realize that most people would kill for immortality, but it's really not all that it's cracked up to be. It makes relationships difficult; you watch the people you fall in love with grow old and die and after that, you just have to find a way to carry on. There's actually a tremendous beauty in simply growing old with someone, and I blame it on the universe's sick sense of humor that you probably have to be immortal to truly appreciate that." He swallowed. "And then there was Camille... When I met her, I was at a crossroads in my life and for all her faults, she did actually help me through a very difficult time. And she was immortal, just like me, so I finally thought that I had found what I had been looking for my entire life and I tried so very hard to make it work between us. But it was never an equal partnership; I needed her a great deal more than she needed me and it ham near destroyed me. Our relationship was toxic and even though I knew that, I never had the strength to walk away. Eventually, she left me for someone else and in hindsight that probably was the best thing that ever could've happened to me, but I just went completely numb, closing myself off for everything. There really isn't any other way to describe it."
"Magnus, I -"
"There's more, Alexander. In order for us to have a future, you need to know about my past too."
Alec shrugged. "I don't want you to share anything that you're not willing to give, Magnus. And it's like I said on our first date, I don't care how many people you've been with. You're here with me now, and that's really all that matters to me."
Alec kissed him briefly on the lips, as if he wanted to offer reassurance and it gave Magnus the courage to carry on.
"After Camille, I just became an automaton, going through the motions every single day, merely existing, but never really living. My life became a blur of never ending parties and lovers whose names and faces I can't even remember. Until one night in the late eighties at yet another wild party Catarina showed up. My memories of that night are a bit hazy, but she held a mirror in front of me and I despised what I saw. It finally began to dawn on me that I was nothing more than a moving and breathing corpse. I had turned into someone I didn't recognize anymore, someone I hated. My life didn't change overnight, but it definitely was a turning point. Slowly but surely the haze lifted and I allowed myself to start feeling things again." He paused. "However, it wasn't until I met you that I fell in love again. And loving you wasn't even a conscious decision, it just happened. You walked into that party, and it felt as if I was struck by lightning."
"And then I put you through a lot of tortillas. Jace, Lydia..."
"That definitely wasn't easy," Magnus admitted. "And I was ready to throw in the towel, but then Ragnor appeared to me in a vision - well, it was either that or I had way too much vodka - and he flat out told me to fight for what I wanted. That's when I gatecrashed your wedding."
Magnus felt Alec's strong arms slide around his waist from behind and Magnus gratefully leaned into his embrace, soothed by the sound of the steady thumping of Alec's heart.
"I'm so glad you showed up that day, Magnus," Alec whispered against Magnus's skin as he pressed a soft kiss in Magnus's neck. "That you were willing to fight for me. For us. That day you saved me in more ways than one. And to me, you are everything. You never have to doubt that."
Magnus turned around in Alec's arms and cupped Alec's face in his hands. "I am truly sorry for tonight, Alexander. I am glad you came back."
Alec gave him a lopsided grin. "I am a Shadowhunter, remember? You can't get rid of me that easily. Besides, remember what we promised each other: when things get crazy..."
"... don't push me away," Magnus finished Alec's sentence with a smile, happiness bubbling through his veins as if it was the most exquisite champagne.
"Well, it got us this far, didn't it?" Alec pressed his forehead against Magnus's. "So Jace ate the steak I made you... Or in a way, I suppose you did it, because he inhabited your body? Pepper, that's just too complicated. How about a drink instead?"
"A drink sounds wonderful," Magnus answered as he pressed Alec's fingers to his lips, before entangling himself from Alec's embrace. "But there's something else I got to do first." Magnus swaggered inside, working the hideous outfit Jace put him in the best he could.
A playful smile tugged at Alec's lips. "Oh, yeah? And what exactly would that be?"
Magnus looked over his shoulder and gave Alec a saucy wink. "Loose these tracksuit bottoms, of course."
The end (for now)
Some songs to accompany this story, some more relevant than others:
- If I Were A Boy - Beyonce
- Freak Like Me - Sugababes (couldn't get this song out of my head, just because of the word 'freak' in Freaky Friday-contest.
- Freak Like Me - Adena Howard (this is the original version of the song, but I like the Sugababes-cover so much that I included it as well)
- Back to You - Bryan Adams
- In My Place - Coldplay
- Who Do You Love? - Deborah Cox
- Someone Like You - Van Morrison
- Cake by The Ocean - DNCE (initially I wanted to replace the s-word with cake... But I changed it because 'piece of cake' is an actual expression, so it might cause confusion, and well, it didn't follow the rhyming criteria. And yeah, I know that cake by the ocean has nothing to do with cake ;) )
- Stay - Lisa Loeb
- Be my number two - Joe Jackson
- Peaches - Presidents of the United States
- Light - Sleeping At Last (this song is beautiful all by itself, but this Malec-fanvid using this song is crazy awesomesauce with a heaping bunch of fries on the side. All the feelz, seriously https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uteq3Fc24A)
- Sweet like chocolate - Shanks & Bigfoot
Part of the challenge was to replace swear words with food items. There's actually a system behind the words I used! So yeah, underneath you can see how they sort of came alive XD
- Crap / wrap --> tortilla (wrap)
- God / Cod / Fish --> Tuna (initially I used Fish as a replacement, but that just didn't flow right)
- bitch / sandwich --> goat cheese (sandwich)
- hell / bell --> (bell) pepper
- damn / ham --> ham (that one is pretty straightforward, LOL)
- shit / pit --> peach (pit)
Chapter 4: THE NIGHT WE MET - 1
Of all the places where I would've expected to find inspiration for a story, in the attic whilst doing laundry definitely wasn't one of them. But there I was, strutting my funky stuff to cheesy 80's songs (no, there's no video footage of THAT, thank God) when Neneh Cherry's Buffalo Stance came on, and it made me think of Magnus and all things eighties, and yeah... the story just happened from there.
This story is a continuation of the story before this one - ' Freak Like You' - but it definitely stands on it own. However, I do think you'll enjoy this story more if you've read 'Freak Like You' but it's not a requirement to understand what's going on in this story.
So, without further ado, here we go! Hope you'll enjoy! Don't forget to vote and/or tell me what you think of this story in the comments. Cheers
Alec woke to the sound of Magnus belting on top of his voice about some disturbed looking gigolo on the street. Groaning, he looked at the alarm clock and immediately bolted upright. 9.13AM! "Shit!" he muttered under his breath. He had to be at the Institute in less than 30 minutes! Fast as lightning he shot out of bed and threw on some clothes, absentmindedly checking for stains or holes.
He still couldn't care less about what he wore, but according to Magnus, he had an image to uphold as Head of the New York Institute. Alec's way of avoiding stain issues was that he now favored black over grey - blood and demon gore were a lot more difficult to spot on black - and as for the holes in his clothes, he had seen a lot of überhip people parading around in clothes that looked like they were torn to shreds by a werewolf on steroids. So really, he might have actually set a trend with his holey clothes
But today's clothes looked and smelled clean - no doubt thanks to Magnus - and didn't have any rips or tears. Yet. It would have to do.
When he walked into the kitchen, Magnus was singing about how 'no money man could win his love' while he was concocting some unseemly looking green potion that smelled like it had dead mice in it.
"I hope that's not breakfast," Alec said, his nose wrinkling in disgust.
Magnus turned around, grinning from ear to ear. "How long have you been standing there, sunshine?"
"Long enough to know that I apparently don't have to be a money man to win your love." Alec leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss to Magnus's lips. "What is this crap you're listening to anyway?"
Magnus placed a finger to Alec's lips. "Nobody gets to dis Neneh Cherry in this household, Alexander." He bumped his hip against Alec's and did a little twirl. "Not even you. This song might be an oldie, but it's a goodie."
"Just like you then."
Magnus playfully slapped Alec's butt. "Show some respect to your elders, young Alexander."
Alec grinned. "No matter what wicked things you do to me during the night, you know I'll still respect you in the morning, sweetheart." Alec made a face. "Seriously, what is that godawful smell?"
"Just a potion I'm brewing for Catarina. Figured I owed her one after the whole body switch debacle."
Alec pulled Magnus close and kissed the tip of his nose. "It wasn't so bad, was it?' Granted, body switches weren't a whole lot of fun, but in the end, the whole experience had made them even closer than they had already been.
"Are you kidding?" Magnus looked at him in mock-disgust. "Jace put me in tracksuit bottoms! He's lucky I didn't turn him into a toad. Care for some coffee, sunshine?"
Alec entangled himself from Magnus's embrace and shot a look at his watch. "Wish I could, but I have to be at the Institute in 20 minutes. Clave meeting."
Magnus conjured a cup of coffee out of thin air, followed by a Belgian waffle. "Sit. I don't want to risk unleashing a decaffeinated and hungry Alexander Lightwood to the world. I'll portal you to the Institute, okay? I've barely seen you the last couple of days."
A rueful smile tugged at Alec's lips. "I know." He took a sip of coffee and shut his eyes in a moment of bliss. "I'm sorry. Things just have been so crazy at the Institute... Demon activity seems to have gone through the roof – literally in some cases - and it's really been all hands on deck."
"Anything I can do to help?" Magnus enquired.
Alec sighed and shook his head. "No, but thanks for asking. Other than keeping your ear out for information, there's not a lot you can do, I'm afraid." Pensively he took another sip of coffee. "Last night Izzy and I killed seven demons between the two of us, but I somehow can't suppress the feeling that we're just bringing water to the ocean."
Magnus nodded. "I'm seeing Rafael and Luke this morning, I'll ask if they know anything."
Alec put his now empty coffee cup on the kitchen counter and swallowed the last bite of his Belgian waffle. "Thanks. Got to go, I'm afraid."
With a flick of the wrist, Magnus conjured a portal for him. "Your carriage awaits, Alexander. Shall I come to the Institute tonight so we can have dinner together?"
Alec leaned in for a kiss and looked at Magnus. God, what he wouldn't give to just call the Insitute that he wasn't coming in today so he could just spend the day with Magnus instead... It felt like ages since they had some quality time together. Over the last weeks, there had always been some emergency popping up at the last minute that immediately required the Head of the Institute's attention. Not that Magnus had been complaining, but still... He missed just spending a quiet night at home, snuggling up with his boyfriend.
Their efforts had gone a long way to bringing them here, together. And it felt so right, like all the pieces of the puzzle in his life had finally clicked in place. Here, he wasn't 'Alec, head of the New York Institute' or 'Alec, the Shadowhunter.' With Magnus, he was just Alexander, Magnus's boyfriend, and there was nobody he would rather be. "No, don't do that," he said, making up his mind in a split-second. "I'm going to cook for you tonight, alright? It's been ages since we spend an evening together."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. Didn't you once tell me that there would always be a war? The demons are just going to have to make do without me tonight."
Magnus's beaming face was all the evidence Alec needed to know that he made the right call.
"So, I'll be home early." Alec pointed to the potion brewing on Magnus's stove. "Just make sure that that godawful smell is gone tonight. Seriously, even Izzy's cooking smells divine compared to that!" And after one last peck on Magnus's lips, Alec reluctantly stepped through the portal and disappeared out of sight.
Magnus sighed, looking at the place where Alec vanished through the portal a couple of seconds ago. He knew that Alec very much had a hands-on mentality when it came to his work, so for him to let Jace and the others take over his duties, just so he could take a night off, was not something that came easily to Alec. It was one of the many reasons he admired and loved Alec, but nonetheless, Magnus was happy that Alec had decided to carve out some time for himself tonight. Because it was true what he said to Alec just before they went on their first date: there would always be a war to a fight, but if you never stopped and took a moment for yourself, you eventually forgot what you were fighting for in the first place.
And Alec needed a breather because the bags under his eyes were big enough to house Magnus's entire wardrobe.
He turned around to the stove and added a few drops of unicorn blood to the potion. It wasn't an ingredient he used every day, but Catarina had specifically requested this potion. It wasn't one that he was familiar with. Catarina hadn't told him what she needed it for and Magnus hadn't asked. With any other warlock, he would've enquired what the potion was for, but apart from Alec, there wasn't anyone in this world he trusted as much as he trusted Catarina. And he owed her, even though it would probably take a whole lot of magic to rid his loft from this godawful smell before Alec came home.
A smile tugged at Magnus's lips. Tonight he would subject Alec to a bit of Magnus's own hands-on mentality...
T O B E C O N T I N U E D
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Chapter 5: THE NIGHT WE MET - 2
"Catarina!" Magnus gave his friend a hug and then ushered her inside. "Come inside. Care for a coffee?"
"No, thanks," Catarina answered. "I need to be home early for Madzie because her nanny is having the night off. Alec not here?"
Magnus glanced at the clock. "No, he's probably picking up groceries just as we speak. My man is cooking me dinner tonight." His beaming smile probably spoke volumes about how much he was looking forward to spending a quiet night with Alec at home, but he didn't care. Catarina had been his friend for nearly as long as he could remember and he was happy that after all the difficult things she helped him deal with in the past, she was here with him to share in his happiness as well.
Catarina gave him a warm smile. "I love seeing you so happy, Magnus You and Alec... You guys are good together."
Magnus nodded. "That we are... Who would have thought? Me, Magnus Bane, looking forward to a night on the couch, snuggling up to my Shadowhunter boyfriend."
"Well, I always believed that you would find someone someday that would see you for the gem you truly are." Catarina grinned and playfully shoved him against the shoulder. "I actually remember us placing a bet on that on one of your hell-raising parties in the late eighties.'
"Yeah, I certainly knew how to throw a wild party back in the day..." But he didn't miss it at all. Sure, there had been some good times but he hadn't forgotten how empty he eventually had begun to feel. Each night he had been surrounded by hundreds of his supposed closest friends, but he had never felt more lonely In his life. With Alec, for the first time in his immortal life, he finally felt cherished and loved and it wasn't for what he could do or what he could bring, but it was just for who he was. He never wanted to go back to those lonely days ever again. "I don't remember anything about a bet though."
Catarina gave him a quizzical look that he didn't quite understand. "No, you wouldn't, would you?" Then she smiled. "Tell you what, just give me the potion and we'll call it even."
"Yeah, I'll just get it for you." Magnus walked outside to the balcony, retrieved the potion and went back in. "If I were you, I'd store it outside though, because it smells like death warmed up." He sniffed and wrinkled his nose. "I tried some spells today to get rid of the smells, but it still lingers like the fleas on a werewolf."
Catarina burst out laughing. "Have you tried air-freshener?"
"Air-freshener? Why would I do that when I have magic?"
"Because sometimes mundane stuff works better than any spell. Trust me."
Magnus shrugged. "Okay, I'll just get some air-freshener then." He was about to conjure a can with a flick of his wrist, but Catarina held him back.
"Let's just go to the shop together," she suggested. "I sometimes feel that you rely too much on magic."
"Well, if you got it, flaunt it. I practically invented that sentence. But if you want to go the shops, to the shops is where we will go. I suppose a portal is out of the question as well?" At Catarina's confirming nod, he continued, "I'll just grab my coat then." He nodded to Catarina's clothes because with her thermal jacket, woolen beanie, giant scarf and thick gloves, she looked as if she were about to embark on a polar expedition. "It isn't that cold outside, is it?" Because when he had gone outside to get the potion from the rooftop terrace he had actually found it to be quite pleasant for January.
"Eh... You know I get cold easily, so... And there might be snow later on, they said so on the news." She nodded to Magnus's coat. "I definitely would take a scarf and gloves as well, if I were you."
"Okay. Doesn't hurt to be prepared, I guess." He grabbed a glittery scarf and a pair of purple gloves adorned with tiny silver beads and put them on. "Well, ready if you are, my fair Cat."
A/N: A short update today! Hope you liked it. So not only is Magnus going to the supermarket, he's walking there like we mere mortals do, can you believe it? You know who else is going to the supermarket in the next chapter? Alec, accompanied by none other than Izzy. So be prepared!
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* Let me know what you think! *
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Chapter 6: THE NIGHT WE MET - 3
Alec walked into the supermarket, with Izzy in his wake. When he grabbed a shopping basket, he noticed to his annoyance that the line at the checkout nearly reached the back of the shop. Damn it. He was already late enough as it was. Just his luck he came in at the moment the place was overflooded with customers as if it was happy hour.
Why didn't he just let Magnus magic-in the ingredients he needed for tonight's meal? But even though conjuring up the items on Alec’s grocery list would hardly have Magnus break out a sweat, it hadn't felt right to ask. Tonight was about making it up to Magnus for all the meals Alec had missed over the last couple of weeks - and there had been far too many. So he would bloody well just go to the shop by himself, get the stuff he needed and wait in line at the checkout, just like a regular mundane would.
Speaking of sweat... Alec rubbed the back of his head and felt that the hairs on his neck were moist. It was unusually warm for January and according to Simon - aka Vampedia - today was going down in the history books for being the warmest January-day ever. Sweat trickled down Alec's back and not for the first time that day he wished he'd opted for a black t-shirt rather than a black sweater.
"Alec Lightwood doing grocery shopping." Izzy practically had to run to keep up with his long strides, but he was in a hurry. "Seriously, who are you and what have you done to my brother?"
Alec meticulously inspected the produce and picked up an eggplant.
"And why do they even call it an eggplant?" she continued. "I mean, eggplant would be a far better word to describe a chicken, don't you think?"
Alec just shrugged. "Magnus likes them."
"Probably because they're purple. If I were you, I would add some edible glitter to it. Speaking of Magnus..." she nodded to the shop entrance. "If my eyes are not betraying me, there he is. Huh... Never thought I would live to see the day that the High Warlock of Brooklyn went to a supermarket the way us mere mortals do." She quickly grabbed her telephone and snagged a picture. "Jace and Clary are not going to believe this."
"And you will not live to see another day if he finds out you took a picture of him carrying a shopping basket."
The slightly pissed-off look on Magnus's face transformed into a smile the moment Magnus spotted him, and the butterflies in Alec's stomach kicked it up a notch when Magnus, flanked by Catarina, sauntered in his direction.
“Hello, earth to Alec!” Izzy waved her hands in front of him. “My brother, the smitten kitten. Who’d have thought?” Grinning, Izzy shoved Alec against his shoulder. “Anyway, Magnus has nothing to worry about because he rocks that shopping basket as if it’s a Louis Vuitton.”
Alec frowned. “Louis-who?”
“Nevermind. Hi there!” Izzy jumped up and down like an overzealous puppy. Looked like his sister had way too much caffeine today.
Still, in all the time he and Magnus had been together, Magnus hadn’t gone to an actual shop once (though at Alec’s request, every once in a while, Magnus did make sizable donations to the shops he frequented) and seeing him here with a shopping basket, dressed as if he was about to depart for the Antarctic, was somewhat unusual.
“Fancy seeing you two here at our little shop on the corner,” Izzy said.
“Not an experience I intend to repeat anytime soon.” Magnus glared at the impossibly long line at the check-out, but then he looked at Alec and his gaze softened. “Although there are certain items here worthy of picking up.”
Alec burst out laughing. “Worst pickup line ever, Mags. But seriously, what does bring you here?”
“Air freshener, combined with Cat’s inexplicable need for conquering the urban jungle.”
Cat shrugged. “I just told him that it would be good for him to not always rely on his magic, and just do stuff the mundane way.”
“But I’m not a mundane!” Magnus protested, rolling his eyes.
“Not the point. Anyway, let’s go find some air freshener –“
Cat was about to continue to the next aisle, when Izzy pulled her back, a puzzled look on her face. “Hang on… My necklace is glowing all of a sudden.”
A mixture of anger and irritation washed over Alec. By the Angel, could he not even complete a single task like grocery shopping without being harassed by demons? He looked around but didn’t see anything alarming. “Are you sure?”
“It’s glowing, and it feels warm,” Izzy responded. “So yeah, I’m pretty sure.”
A shiver ran down his spine, alarming him that indeed something wicked was coming this way... While he was discussing eggplants with Izzy, a demon had snuck upon them. The only problem was that he didn't see anything remotely resembling a demon. And that didn't give him the warm and fuzzies... Monsters that didn't look like monsters were the worst kind. Because they could be anyone.
Magnus looked at Alec. “Well, I guess it’s deviled eggs for dinner tonight, Alexander.”
“Deviled eggplants, more like,” Izzy muttered. “I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
Catarina looked around. “That doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.”
Alec put his shopping bag on the floor, retrieved his stele and activated his Voyance-rune. If he could, he would've activated his Invisibility-rune as well, but in a shop full of mundanes, the risk of exposure was too high. “We’ll split up. Magnus and I will sweep the back of the shop, and then you can go the front. Try and lure him outside if you can, because there are too many mundanes here.”
Izzy nodded. “Okay, let’s do this.”
Alec walked past a tired looking, blonde checkout girl to the back of the shop, scanning the people that were waiting in line to pay for their groceries but he didn’t pick up anything demonic from any of them.
“Seems all clear to me,” Magnus whispered.
They moved to the next aisle. A toddler screaming on top of his lungs and a mother who looked close to tears were the only people there.
“Don’t think that’s the demon either,” Alec said softly.
“Though the kid certainly gave me pause the way he was screaming.”
Magnus chuckled. "Same here."
They went on to the next aisle. Pet food.
At first glance, the girl looked human. Long black coat and blonde hair. But her eyes were infinite pools of darkness. Demonic eyes. Thank the Angel that this was just a regular glamoured demon and not one that had taken possession of a mundane’s body because if that had been the case, he probably could’ve kissed his romantic evening with Magnus goodbye. A smirk tugged at his lips. He would thank Blondie for being a demon of the glamour-variety by banishing her back to where she came from.
Alec did a step backward and pulled Magnus with him. “There are two mundanes at the other side of the aisle.” He grabbed his phone and shot Izzy a message. A second later a thumbs-icon lit up on his screen. “Izzy and Cat will create a diversion to get the two mundanes out of the way. Then we sweep in and kick her demon ass back to where it came from.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
The screeching sound of a fire alarm drowned out the cheesy supermarket music, immediately followed by the alarmed cries of customers and someone shouting instructions for everyone to remain calm and leave the shop.
“That’s it, that’s our cue,” Alec said. By the Angel, he really wished he had taken his bow and quiver with him, but damn it, this was supposed to be his night off.
A fireball lit up at Magnus’s fingertips, and they shifted forward, their movements completely in-synch with each other, edging in on the demon, making sure the she-devil had no room to escape.
“Now, Magnus,” Alec whispered, moving to the right.
Magnus threw his fireball, but the demon, who until then had appeared to be oblivious to their presence, ducked at the last moment and then threw a can of pet food at Magnus with so much force that it looked as if she was launching a goddamn missile from a bow.
“Magnus, look out!” Without hesitating, Alec dove at Magnus to push him out of the way and then it felt as if he got sucked into a void, and together they began to fall…
“Alec!” Izzy started to run forward, to the place where a second ago Magnus and her brother had vanished into thin air, but Cat forcefully pulled her back.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Izzy screamed over the deafening sound of the fire alarm, blind rage and panic etching her features. “Why didn’t you do anything?”
“Stay back,” was all Cat said. Trying to suppress the tremors in her hand, she unscrewed the top of the little bottle containing the potion Magnus had made at her request. She only had one shot, if she missed... No, she couldn’t think like that… This had to work. Magnus and Alec’s life were on the line. She took a deep, steadying breath, bolted forward and threw the potion at the demon who immediately sunk to her knees.
Relief flooded her. It worked. Thank God, it worked…
“Cat, what the hell?” The suspicion and anguish in Izzy’s eyes nearly killed Cat.
“Both Magnus and your brother are fine,” Cat tried to reassure her. She knelt down next to the demon. Out like a light... For now. “But you have to trust me, Izzy… Even though everything you just witnessed will make it very hard for you to do so.”
Izzy shook her head, tears glistening in her eyes. “You could have saved them… You could have saved them, and you didn’t. Why?”
Izzy was right. Cat could have prevented what happened to Alec and Magnus, and she prayed to God she made the right call. She had to trust Magnus, believe everything he had told her. “Or the consequences could be dire,” he had warned.
“I know you don't understand... Hell, I don't even think I understand it myself, but this needed to happen, Izzy.” She looked at Izzy, silently pleading the dark-haired girl to believe every word she said. With a flick of her wrist Cat opened a portal. “And I will explain everything to you, I promise. But first, we need to get this demon to Magnus’s loft as soon as possible. So... Are you in or are you out?”
Izzy hesitated, but then she gave a brief nod. “I’m in.”
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Chapter 7: THE NIGHT WE MET - 4
Magnus hit the ground hard, with Alec immediately falling on top of him, crushing the air from Magnus's lungs.
"Magnus!" Alec immediately rolled off him. "Jesus, Magnus... Are you okay?"
Magnus scrambled to a sitting position. Black dots were swimming before his eyes, and his stomach felt as if he had just taken a nosedive from the top of a skyscraper. A faint buzzing sound rang in his ears. "Yeah, I'm fine. You?"
Alec nodded, concern evident on his face. "Yeah, you broke my fall. You sure you're okay?"
"Positive." He grabbed Alec's hand and gave it a quick reassuring squeeze. When he looked up, all he saw was diapers and baby food. They magically seemed to have moved an aisle, but Magnus couldn't quite fathom how that had happened. One second the demon had tried to kill him with a can of dog food and the next he was on his back in the baby-section.
Death by dog food... Thank God for Alec's Shadowhunter-reflexes.
And it was so quiet all of a sudden... Someone must've switched off the fire-alarm, and an eerie silence had descended upon them. Even the cheesy music from before was gone.
"I don't have a good feeling about this," Magnus said quietly. It felt as if he had been cast as an extra in an episode of 'Stranger Things' without anyone telling him.
"Me neither." Alec stood up and stretched out his hand to Magnus to help him on his feet. "Where are Cat and Izzy?" He retrieved his phone from his pocket and looked at the screen. "Crap. No reception." He sighed, putting his phone back in his pocket. "Okay, you're ready? We still have to kill a demon, I'm afraid."
Magnus nodded, and without making a sound, they moved to the next aisle.
But there was nobody there. The demon seemed to have vanished into thin air.
"Huh..." Alec slowly turned around, looking at the shelves. "Could've sworn this was the pet food aisle."
But the pet food had been replaced with washing detergent, toilet paper and cleaning products. And even though Magnus wasn't a hundred percent sure, the aisle seemed narrower somehow.
"Let's go find Cat and Izzy," Magnus said. "Hopefully they had better luck banishing the demon."
They walked past a short line of people at the checkout.
"Didn't everyone go outside because of the fire-alarm?" Alec whispered.
"I thought so..." Had they lost consciousness at some point? Magnus didn't think they had, but when he looked around him, all of a sudden he wasn't so sure anymore. And where the hell were Cat and Izzy?
Magnus stood still and looked around. Outside it had started to snow, big, white flakes landing on the pavement, covering the tiles with a white blanket. The queasy feeling in his stomach subsided somewhat. Cat had said that it was going to snow later on. It was nice for at least one thing to make sense.
"Are you girls gonna keep standing there or are you gonna buy something?" a raspy voice shouted.
Magnus looked up. The blonde girl at the checkout had probably finished her shift because in her place was now a balding man with a protruding belly over his waistband and a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. Wasn't smoking banned from stores like twenty-five years ago? Apparently, this guy had missed the memo.
"We're going. Sorry." Alec grabbed Magnus's elbow and that's when Magnus saw it. The rune on Alec's hand was gone.
His heart skipped a beat. His gaze traveled upwards to Alec's neck, dreading what he might find – or rather not find – there. But he knew the truth even before his eyes registered it.
Alec's Deflect-rune was gone.
Magnus's knees buckled. If it hadn't been for Alec's hand steadying him, he would've dropped to the ground. His mouth felt parched as he tried to subdue the panic flooding through his body. He was Magnus Bane, High Warlock of Brooklyn. Panic wasn't this thing.
"Magnus, are you okay?" Alec's voice seemed to come from far away.
"Hey, buddy!" The guy from behind the checkout yelled. "I don't know what drugs you're ladyfriend is high on" – he nearly spat out the last word – "but I want none of that shit in my store. Now get the fuck out of here!"
Magnus felt Alec stiffening, ready to give the man a piece of a mind, but Magnus put a hand to Alec's lips to stop him. "Don't," he whispered. "We need to get out of here, Alec. Now."
"What? No! That dude was – "
"Please, Alec." Something in Magnus's voice must have convinced Alec because he nodded and turned around.
On their way to the exit, they walked past a rack with newspapers and magazines. Magnus's eye fell on the cover of Time Magazine, featuring a much younger looking version of Donald Trump, holding an ace of diamonds playing-card in his hand. And then all the pieces of the puzzle clicked into place.
Time seemed to come to a standstill when Magnus pulled Alec with him to the newsstand. Everything in him screamed it was impossible, that it couldn't have happened and yet, he knew it had, even without seeing it before him in bold black letters.
Somewhere in the background, he heard the guy behind them yelling for them to get the hell out of his shop, but it faded into the background when his eyes fell on the cover of the New York Times. Because under the curly letters, the date didn't say 6 January 2017.
Far from it.
According to the New York Times, today's date was 6 January 1989.
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“Magnus!” The cold bit in Alec’s skin when he ran outside after Magnus. “By the Angel, Magnus… What’s wrong?”
Magnus turned around on his heels and grabbed Alec by the shoulders. “What’s wrong?” His voice sounded shrill.
“Yeah… You took one look at those magazines and you bolted outside as if Lucifer himself is hot on his heels.”
“O, Alexander…” Magnus shook his head. “That might be a lot closer to the truth than you think.”
“I don’t understand…”
Magnus gently turned him around and pushed Alec towards a dark window. A street lantern illuminated their silhouettes from behind. “I don’t know how I’m going to say this to you...” His gloved finger gently stroked Alec’s neck. “But your runes… they’re gone.”
“What? No!” Alec stepped closer to the window, looking for evidence that Magnus was wrong, that everything was fine and his runes were still there… But the Deflect-rune had been erased from his skin. His gaze traveled downwards, to his hands… But he knew what he would find there. Nothing. Not even the faint line of a scar marred his skin.
Alec swallowed hard. Panicking wasn’t going to help, he knew that, but it was near enough impossible to remain calm after losing what was such an essential part of his heritage… What was such an essential part of him.
“What happened?” he asked in a toneless voice, staring at Magnus’s reflection in the window.
Magnus sighed. “I’m not one hundred percent sure, but it looks like we’ve traveled back in time.” His voice trembled. “To 18 January 1989 to be precise.”
Alec’s heart skipped a beat. He didn’t doubt Magnus’s words, but his brain just couldn’t fully process them yet. “How?”
“I’m not sure. Your runes have probably been erased because technically you don’t exist yet. There’s every chance they will reappear once we travel back to our own time,” Magnus shrugged. “And as to how we got here, I’m guessing that that demon in the shop somehow pushed us through a time portal… Still, that’s advanced stuff, even for a higher demon and I didn’t get any special snowflake-vibe from it at all.”
Magnus sounded so matter-of-factly, as if they were discussing what they were going to have for dinner. Dinner… God… Alec rubbed his chin. Of all the supermarkets that he could’ve gone to, he went into the one that housed a demon that created wrinkles in time. “Can you create such a portal?”
“I don’t know.” Magnus shook his head. “I have never even attempted to create a portal through time because it’s a surefire way to sign your own death warrant. You have to understand that time travel is…” He gestured with his hands. “It has strong repercussions to meddle with time. End of the world repercussions unless you’re very, very careful. If that demon has created any more time portals… Hell, she might have sent Izzy and Cat back to the Middle Ages for all I know.”
“Okay.” Alec looked at his hands, numb from the cold. To his surprise, they were trembling. The thought of his sister locked away somewhere in time… It was unbearable to even think about. “So you conjure a time portal and we go back and vanquish this demon once and for all.”
“Conjuring up a time-portal is dark magic, Alexander. It’s not just a flick of the wrist.”
Alec’s jaw clenched. “So what do you suggest we do then? Remain stuck in the eighties?”
“No, of course not.” Magnus covered Alec’s hand with own gloved hand. “I could probably get the spell I need from the Book of the White at my apartment, but if my Past-self sees me...” He made an explosive gesture with his free hand.
“So, then I’ll just go and get it for you,” Alec said.
Magnus squeezed his hand. “My Past-self doesn’t know you from Adam, Alexander. I’m… He… Whatever… Look, no doubt my Past-self will probably try to get into your pants immediately, but that doesn’t mean that he’s going to hand over his most prized possession over to you, no questions asked.” Magnus took a deep breath. “I have to ask Cat. I hate to get her involved in all this, but I can’t shake the feeling she already knew this was going to happen anyway… I just don’t understand…” He vehemently shook his head. “Nevermind, there’s no time for that now. We need to get going.” He flicked his wrist and… nothing. “What the hell?”
“What’s wrong?” Alec asked.
Another flick of the wrist. Still nothing.
Magnus looked at him, alarm etched on his features. “I can’t do it. I can’t create a portal. My magic… I can’t access it.”
Magnus made another attempt at creating a portal to Cat’s apartment, but still, nothing happened.
Alec took a deep breath. Things couldn’t get any worse than this. His runes were gone and Magnus’s magic had vanished. “Okay… So, we’ll just hail a cab.”
“Impossible,” Magnus said. “The money in our pockets hasn’t been printed yet and believe me, the dollar bills we have now, differ quite a bit from those in the late eighties.”
Scratch that. Things had just gotten worse. They traveled back in time to a freezing cold New York, they had no runes, no magic, no money or any other means of making their way across town and on top of that, his sister and Cat may be stuck somewhere in time without having any means of getting back to 2017 either.
Alec took a quick scan of his surroundings. They were not that far from Magnus’s loft, which meant that Catarina’s apartment was probably about an hour’s walk from here. It was a good thing that he could find his way across town blindfolded, because with Magnus's fondness for using portals, Alec doubted Magnus could even find his way out of his own street. “Well, we’ll just have to walk there, I guess.”
Magnus gave him a quick kiss and the vice around Alec’s chest loosened a bit. They were together and together, they were strong.
“Walking it is then. Quite romantic taking a stroll in snow-covered New York City.” Magnus gave Alec a smile that didn’t quiet reach his eyes. “Thank God Catarina insisted I put on warm clothes…” He paused and bowed his head. “I’m so sorry about all this, Alexander.”
Alec lifted Magnus’s chin with his finger, forcing him to look Alec straight in the eyes. “You have nothing to be sorry for, Magnus. This isn’t your fault.”
“I don’t know…” Magnus shook his head, despair evident in his eyes. “Let’s just get to Catarina first, shall we?”
Alec grabbed Magnus’s gloved hand and gripped it tightly. “Let’s do that. And then we’ll just take it from there.”
A/N I know I published like 5 chapters in one week and I really love writing this story. However, just a quick heads up that I probably will update less frequently until 19 december. I'm swamped with work and my novella 'Cursed by the Crown' made it to the second round in the Open Novella Contest on Wattpad (should you be interested to read it, you can find it here: https://www.wattpad.com/story/128884668-cursed-by-the-crown-opennovellacontest - It's not a Malec story, though) which means that I have to crank out another 4000 words in a short period of time. I will try to update this story as well, because I'm having so much fun writing it, but the next updates might just take a bit longer. Sorry!
Chapter 9: THE NIGHT WE MET - 6
By the time they reached Cat’s apartment building, Magnus’s fingers and feet felt completely numb from the blistering cold. He gave Alec a sideways glance. Snowflakes dotted Alec’s jet-black hair and his face was red from the cold. God, for Alec, this must be even worse…
At least Magnus had been somewhat prepared for this type of weather. But Alec just got thrust into this situation because he had wanted to save Magnus from a demon. Guilt gnawed at Magnus’s gut. Getting back to their own time would be the easy part. He was more scared about what was going to happen to them when they were back to 2017… If they made it back. Because of him, Alec was involved and possibly in danger, and now Magnus was about to suck Cat into this mess as well.
Magnus shook his head, trying to make sense of the jumble in his head. Cat might have been involved in 2017, but he still wasn’t sure if he shouldn’t at least attempt to break that loop now he was back in 1989. His own safety was the least of his concern, but Alec and Cat… If anything were to happen to them because of him, he would never be able to forgive himself.
“Thank the Angel, Cat hasn’t moved in the past thirty years,” Alec muttered, blowing on his fingers. Magnus had offered Alec his gloves, but Alec had flat-out refused, claiming that he wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing gloves with glitter and beads. But Magnus knew that wasn’t the real reason Alec had declined Magnus’s offer – Alec had a habit of always putting everyone’s needs before his own, and it was one of the many reasons that Magnus had fallen in love with him, but now it somehow annoyed him. Alec’s chivalry wasn’t going to do either of them a lot of good here, not if it meant Alec was going to lose his fingers from frostbite.
With a huff, Magnus tugged his scarf from his neck and tied it around Alec’s neck. “If you only so much as think about arguing with me, I’ll have your balls for breakfast.”
Alec burst out laughing. “I might not object to that, you know.”
The sound of Alec’s laugh relieved some of the coiled-up tension in Magnus’s gut. He grabbed Alec’s hands and started rubbing them between his gloves in an attempt to warm them up a little. “I could really kiss you right now, Alexander, but I’m scared our lips will freeze together if I do.”
“Then I suggest you hold that thought until we’re someplace warm,” Alec said, but he placed his lips briefly against Magnus’s forehead nonetheless. “So, how do you want to play this?”
Magnus slowly released a breath he hadn’t even realized he had been holding. “I don’t look that different now – well, I ditched the giant-sized shoulder pads, thank God – so Cat will know it’s me, though she has an eerily well-developed sixth sense and probably knows right away that something’s off.” Magnus shrugged. “The rest we’ll just have to figure out once we’re inside.
“So, you’re Magnus, but you’re Magnus from the future.” Cat stared at them in disbelief. ‘And that’s your _”
“The less you know about him and about the future, the better,” Magnus interjected. With every minute that had passed since Cat had let them into her apartment, he progressively started to question the wisdom of his decision to come here.
As Magnus had expected, Cat had sensed that something was off the minute they set foot in her apartment. And now Alec and he had laid the whole story on the table, she just stared at him, clearly debating whether or not she was going to believe him.
“You could call my 1989-self and see if I’m home,” Magnus offered, trying not to think about how sorry he was he involved Cat in this. It was done and he couldn’t undo it. Logically, he knew he really hadn’t had much choice but that knowledge wasn’t enough to soothe his conscience.
“Chances of you being home on a Friday night are slim, Magnus,” she said. “You are either out, painting the town red, or you’re in, throwing a red-painted party of your own.” There was no judgment in Cat’s voice, but Magnus knew that she never really liked his parties back in the day. Hell, he wasn’t even sure if she liked him all that much back then. Sure, she loved him and she always stood by him, but he wasn’t an easy person to be around in the late eighties.
Alec bent forward, his elbows leaning on his knees. “I’m Alec. Alexander Gideon Lightwood –“
“Alexander, no –“
“Yes, Magnus,” Alec interjected, clearly indicating that it was pointless to argue with him because he wasn’t going to back down on this. “Like it or not, but Cat is a part of this now. I might as well tell her who I am and more importantly what I am to you.”
“I already know what you are to Magnus,” Cat said softly, and her hand lightly touched Alec’s before her gaze met Magnus’s. “There’s this happy glow in your eyes that I haven’t seen for such a long time, Magnus. And I spend the last years despairing if I ever would see it again… To see you like this, happy…” She looked at Alec. “Loved… You have no idea how much that means to me.”
Until that moment, Magnus had never realized how much he hurt Cat by self-sabotaging his life. Back then, he had lived from hour to hour, never thinking too far ahead and certainly never thinking about how his self-destructive behavior had impacted his friends. He grabbed Cat’s hand and squeezed it, swallowing against the lump lodged in his throat. “I’m okay now, Cat. I’ve never been happier than I am now, with Alexander.”
Cat wiped away a tear that had escaped from her eye and nodded. “That’s good to know.” She took a deep breath and smiled. “Anyone for coffee?”
“God, yes.” Alec sagged back against the cushions of the couch and rested his hand on Magnus’s knee.
It was such a small gesture, one Alec probably hadn’t even thought about, but it warmed Magnus from the inside out. They had come such a long way together, and what he had just told Cat was the truth: being with Alec had made him the happiest he had ever been in his whole immortal life.
Cat’s voice jolted him out of his daydreams. “Well, if there’s the possibility of a dry Martini…”
Cat smiled. “Good to know that some things never change.” She flicked her wrist and two steaming carton cups with coffee and a dry Martini with an olive floating on the bottom of the glass appeared. “What?” she said to Magnus with raised eyebrows. “It’s alright for you to do it, but not for me?”
Magnus chuckled. “I didn’t say a thing, did I?” He took a deep gulp of his drink, the alcohol slowly warming him up from the inside and untangling the coiled-up nerves in his gut. For the first time since Alec landed on top of him in that godforsaken supermarket, he started to believe that they were going to be okay. Alec and he would get back to their own time, with a little help from Cat, and they would vanquish that demon into oblivion. With any luck, no one would ever found out they had time-traveled, but even if they did, surely they could see that it was just an unlucky combination of circumstances that had brought them here?
“So, if I understand correctly,” Cat said, nipping her coffee, “I ask you to make me a potion, and when I come and pick it up, I more or less coax you to come along to the supermarket, dressed like a glittery ice-bear on a January day that is so warm that it will end up in the history books, and in this supermarket, a time-traveling demon awaits that sends both you and Alec back in time when you try to banish it? And I know that all that will happen, but I don’t do anything to stop it?” Her gaze darted from Magnus to Alec and back. “That doesn’t really sound like me, Magnus.”
“You must have had your reasons, Cat.” Magnus shrugged. “I probably ordered you to not warn me in advance. Hell, I’m ordering you right now not to tell my past-self anything about what will happen in the future.”
Cat put her mug of coffee down on the table with so much force that the brown liquid sloshed over the rim. “How long have we known each other, Magnus?” She stood up and folded her arms across her chest.
Magnus couldn’t shake the feeling that he was treading on very thin ice. “I know what you’re saying, but –“
“Centuries, Magnus! We’ve known each other for centuries! And in all those centuries, has there ever been an occurrence where I took well to being ordered around by you, or by anyone else for that matter?”
Magnus just shook his head, deeming it wise to keep his mouth shut for the time being.
Cat threw her hands in the air, exasperation written all over her face. “God, you don’t get it, do you? You might have told me not to say anything, but that doesn’t mean I actually listened!” Then she smiled. “Or maybe I did listen… Just not in the way you wanted me to. I know me, and I know what my future self would do. Check your pockets, Magnus.”
“What? Why?” Magnus asked, not understanding a word of what Cat was saying.
But Alec had already gotten up, realization dawning on his features. He grabbed Magnus’s coat from Cat’s coatrack and deposited it on Magnus’s lap.
Magnus emptied the contents of the first pocket he came across. His wallet – solely intended to pay for his drinks at the Hunter’s Moon -, his phone and a packet of chewing gum was all it contained. But when his hand searched his other pocket, he felt the rustle of paper. He slid it out of his pocket, and his eye fell on a light blue envelope that had his name scribbled on it in Cat’s swirly handwriting.
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Chapter 10: THE NIGHT WE MET - 7
Alec looked at Magnus who was doing a surprisingly accurate imitation of a goldfish.
"Holy mother of all that's good and pure..." Magnus gasped. "You realize what you have done here, Cat?"
Cat shrugged. "I wrote you a letter with instructions." She shook her head. "Probably saved everyone a headache."
"What's the point of preventing a headache if it turns out to be an inoperable brain-tumor?" The panic that Alec had seen earlier in Magnus's eyes had returned. Alec sensed that this time Magnus didn't worry so much about what would happen to them, but that he did fear the repercussions Cat would have to face. "Cat, as the High Warlock of Brooklyn, I demand you will not send me this letter in the future."
Cat just gave Magnus a slightly bored look. "You can demand all you want," she said, nodding to the letter in Magnus's hand. "But it's already happened."
"But –" Magnus shook his head. "This whole concept of time-travel is making my head spin."
Alec grabbed the letter out of Magnus's hand. "We can stand here all day, or we can actually read the letter and get some answers," he said matter-of-factly. "Time is of the essence, no pun intended."
Cat nodded her approval. "I like him, Magnus," she said, pointing at Alec. "Keep him."
Magnus's gaze softened and Alec's stomach somersaulted when he saw the intense look of love in Magnus's amber eyes. "I intend to."
Alec cleared his throat and started reading Cat's letter out loud.
By the time you read this, you and Alec have time-traveled to 1989 and hopefully, you've found your way to my apartment. As your probably already found out, your magic isn't working here and I thought it safest to let Alec travel along with you, so you could find your way around the city. And – insert stern face - hopefully, this will act as an incentive for you to explore the city a bit more without using portals all the time!
I will explain everything to the best of my knowledge, but first things first: Alec, I can't say for certain how things will turn out, but Magnus specifically instructed me to keep Izzy out of harm's way and to immediately immobilize the demon with the potion Magnus made for me after you disappeared through the portal. She will not fall through a portal, not if I can help it."
Alec breathed a sigh of relief. Thank the Angel, Izzy wasn't stuck somewhere in the Dark Ages. If Magnus had asked Cat to keep Izzy away, he was convinced that she would have gone out of her way to protect his sister.
"The demon you encountered in the supermarket is a Bari-ritu demon, a rare demon from the dimension of Chaos, that can create portals through time just as easily as a warlock can create a portal to Tokyo to grab some sushi. The chaos that a demon like that on the loose can create is substantial, and you know what will happen if it starts pushing mundanes through portals at random – it would literally be the end of the world.
The potion you made me immobilizes the demon, but it doesn't vanquish it. The only way to do that is to have you and your past-self speak the banishing spell at the exact moment throughout time. In the past, this happened at Saturday 19 January at 10 PM at your loft.
The spell you need is in the Book of the White at your loft. I wanted to copy it, but the moment I tried, it just erased itself from the paper. At some point, it even caught fire. So I guess your spells are warded against copying."
"Of course they are," Magnus muttered under his breath.
"Don't worry about the potion: when I requested it from you, you made it without even asking what I needed it for.
So, tomorrow night there's a party at Magnus's loft. You, Alec and my Past-self need to go there in order to get the spell to create a time-portal for you to go back, and the spell to vanquish the demon. While you and I search for the book, Alec can keep Magnus away from your 2017-self, because you know that under no circumstances your past and future self can see each other! Once you're back in 2017, you will say the spell at exactly 10 PM and my 1989-self will let your 1989-self do it as well."
Alec looked at Magnus, who had his head resting on his hands and stared into the distance. It was difficult to gauge what was going through Magnus's head at the moment, which was unusual, because normally Alec could read him like an open book. "You okay?"
A vague smile tugged at the corners of Magnus's lips. "Fine. Carry on, Alexander."
"It's imperative that you leave 1989 no later than a couple of minutes before 10 PM because the potion will not hold the demon immobilized much longer than that. And all hell will break loose quite literally if she escapes.
Just so you know: when you two showed up in my 1989, you didn't carry a letter. But there isn't a lot of time and in my 1989, you two barely made it back in time... I'm not even sure if you made it back in time, but it hurts my head just to think about what would've happened then. Compared to the destruction of earth, I thought me sending you back with a letter in your pocket was the lesser of the two evils. It's just to make sure that demon is properly banished, surely the higher-ups will understand that?
There are so many other things I need to explain, but it will have to wait until you & Alec get back home. Please be careful.
All my love,
Alec cleared his throat and folded the letter in half.
Cat looked dazed. "So there is a 1989 where you showed up without a letter... Huh." She shook her head. "Pains my head just to think about it."
Magnus nodded. "You could say that again."
"Well, I probably will. In the future. In the past." She burst out laughing. "Whatever."
"Okay," said Alec, shifting into full-leadership mode. "We know what we have to do tomorrow. And at this point, there's nothing we can do but wait for the party to start at our loft." The 'our loft' slipped into it without Alec even thinking about it, but when he gave it a little more thought he realized he quite liked the sound of it. 'Our loft'. His name right alongside Magnus's next to the doorbell... Would Magnus feel the same way though? They'd been together for a while now. Things were going great and Alec spent nearly every night at Magnus's loft as it was, but would Magnus actually want Alec to officially move in with him? Magnus had been living on his own with the Chairman for a long time, and from someone staying over – even if it was nearly every night – to someone moving in permanently was still quite a big leap to take.
Magnus's hand on his elbow jolted Alec out of his thoughts. "Yeah, you were saying?"
Magnus smiled. "You seemed miles away, sweetheart."
Alec nodded. As they were stuck in the past, now probably wasn't a good time to bring up their living arrangements.
"I would offer you my bed," Cat said, coming from her bedroom with pillows and blankets. "But it's only a single." She deposited everything on the chair and pulled out the sofa bed. "I think you're going to be more comfortable here."
"It's fine. Thanks, Cat." Alec doubted he could sleep anyway. But to his surprise, he fell asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.
The grey morning light filtered through the curtains and it took Alec a moment to realize where he was.
In friggin' 1989.
But when he reached next to him and felt Magnus's warm skin underneath his fingertips, he smiled. At least he was here with Magnus. Alec rolled onto his side and snuggled up to Magnus, spooning him against his front.
"Morning, sunshine," Magnus mumbled. "Did you bring a baseball bat to bed or are you just happy to see me?'
The seductive huskiness in Magnus's voice ignited something low in Alec's belly. He splayed his fingers over Magnus's abs, while he caressed the shell of Magnus's ear with the tip of his tongue.
Alec chuckled when Magnus's body immediately responded to Alec's touch. "Really wish we weren't in Cats apartment right now," Alec grumbled.
In one fluid motion, Magnus turned around and crushed his lips to Alec's, sweeping his tongue inside Alec's mouth to deepen their kiss.
A guttural sound rose up from Alec's throat as a tidal wave of desire threatened to sweep him under, but then he heard noises coming from the other room and he broke away, panting. "By the Angel..." was all he could manage.
Magnus grabbed his hand and squeezed it. "I'm gonna need you to hold that thought, Alexander," he said, sounding as breathless as if he'd just run a marathon. "And I'm in dire need of an ice-cold shower."
"You, naked under a shower... you're not really helping here, Mags."
Magnus chuckled. "Well, I know something that will definitely cool you of."
Alec gave him a questioning look.
"We need to go shopping for tonight's party, Alexander."
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Chapter 11: THE NIGHT WE MET - 8
Nausea clenched at the pit of Alec's stomach went they entered Magnus's loft that night. Just about the only positive thing about this day was that – much to Magnus's disappointment – he hadn't had to go clothes shopping today because Cat thought it unwise if they went outside, as it might possibly screw up the timeline. According to Alec, the timeline was already screwed up anyway but if it got him out of a shopping trip and being paraded around like a mannequin, he wasn't going to argue with the woman. Still, he might have actually preferred shopping to sitting around in Cat's apartment all day, thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong.
"You ready for this?" Magnus said softly, looking at Alec from behind his mask.
As luck would have it, the theme for tonight's party was Broadway-musicals and though it hadn't been easy to rent costumes at such short notice, Cat had managed to get Magnus a Phantom of the Opera-costume while she herself was dressed as a cat. "From Cats," she had explained to him. Alec had just nodded – he'd actually thought she was dressed as a cat because of her name, but that had nothing to do with it apparently.
Magnus had suggested an 'Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' outfit for Alec – Alec had no idea what that was, but the idea of wearing clothing in technicolors didn't appeal to him all that much all that much. Fortunately, despite Cat's best efforts, dreamcoats hadn't been available at such short notice, so apparently, he was now dressed as Danny Zuko – jeans, white T-shirt and a leather jacket. It was fine, apart from the ungodly amount of hair gel Magnus used to mold Alec's hair into something Magnus called an 'Elephant Trunk'.
"As ready as I'll ever be." Alec looked around. The party was already in full swing and people in the most outrageous costumes were drinking and partying like it was 1999, according to the song that blasted from the speakers in full force. The loft was the same as the one Magnus lived in now, and yet it looked completely different. An L -shaped purple couch with bright yellow and pink cushions was the centerpiece of the living room, flanked by sparkly statues of something or someone Alec couldn't even identify, and the walls were painted in some sea green color with orange polka dots that made Alec wish he brought his sunglasses. It was like a doped-up unicorn had barfed all over the place.
"Okay," Cat said, "Magnus, we need to get into your bedroom and retrieve the Book of the White from your safe. Alec, your job is to keep this year's Magnus away from your year's Magnus." She gave him a stern look. "Whatever it takes. I don't care if you have to wrestle him to the ground to keep him away."
Magnus chuckled. "Knowing me, I probably wouldn't object to being wrestled to the ground by such a fine specimen of a man."
"As soon as we found the spell," Cat continued, "I'll come and get you, we conjure the portal back to your time and you two go through. After that, at exactly 9 PM, you say the spell in 2017, Magnus. And I'll get my Magnus to do the same here tonight." She looked at her watch, her hand trembling slightly. "It's now 8 PM, so there isn't much time, but I'm afraid if we'd go here earlier, there would not have been enough people to hide what we're up to. So, are we clear on everything?"
Magnus chuckled. "Aye, Captain."
Alec took a deep breath and gave Magnus's hand a quick squeeze. Cat made it sound so simple that it almost felt as if the fate of the world wasn't at stake tonight. But it was, and they couldn't screw this up. "Yeah... See you in a bit."
Cat and Magnus veered into the direction of Magnus's bedroom and Alec looked around, seeing if he could detect 1989-Magnus somewhere. His own Magnus hadn't remembered what he had been wearing tonight – not that it would've made a difference because Alec would not have been able to tell the Phantom of the Opera apart from a Zorro anyway - and the living room was jam-packed with people strutting their funky stuff to some overly synthesized tune about a virgin being touched for the very first time.
Cat had instructed him to keep social interactions to an absolute minimum, which shouldn't be hard because socializing wasn't one of his stronger suits anyway. All he needed to do was locate 1989-Magnus and do whatever necessary to keep him away from the safe in the bedroom.
A guy whose attempts at dancing could best be described as a drunken bunny hopping around on elasticized legs crashed into him and nearly spilled his drink on Alec's pristine white shirt. "Oh, sorry, chap," the guy said in a very posh British accent.
Alec looked up and his heart skipped a beat. Even though he had never seen the man with the with the two horns sticking out of his curly hair before, he knew instantly who he was.
Ragnor. One of Magnus's closest friends and partner-in-crime, as Magnus always said. Ragnor was killed on the day of Alec's ill-fated wedding to Lydia, and Alec knew how much Magnus missed his friend. It broke his heart a little seeing Ragnor here, vibrant and alive, not knowing that his life would be over in less than 30 years. The urge to issue a warning to Ragnor was overwhelming, just so that Magnus could go back to a 2017 that still had Ragnor in it. But Alec knew he couldn't do it. Time was screwed enough as it was already anyway.
"Well, look what my friend Cat dragged in." Ragnor stumbled over his words and Alec suspected he might have had quite a few drinks already. "Bloody marvelous male specimen, I'd say."
"I-I..." Nice, Alec... Real smooth. "Ragnor... heard so much about you." He stuck out his hand.
"Really?" Ragnor asked, shaking Alec's hand fervently. "Well, bloody marvelous. My reputation precedes me, even here in the grand US of A. Apologies, but I have no idea who you are, marvelous male specimen."
"A-al... Axel." Even if Alec was a fairly common name, it was probably best not to tell people who he was.
"Axel? Huh... unusual name. Well, do you care for a drink, Axel?" Ragnor held out a glass filled with a bright blue liquid that made Alec'stomach churl on sight.
"No, thank you." Alec cleared his throat. "Uh... Perhaps you could tell me where I can find Magnus?"
"Magnus?" The drunken haze disappeared from Ragnor's eyes as he gave Alec an incredulous look. "Didn't you walk in with him two seconds ago?"
Apparently, Ragnor was no way near as drunk as Alec had initially thought. Which was smart in a sense... People tended to say a whole lot more to a person they thought were steaming drunk. Just like Alec had done now...
"No, that was... Not Magnus." Alec forced his lips in a lopsided grin of which Magnus always said that it would get Alec out of even the direst situations. He did a silent prayer that was the case with Ragnor as well.
"Huh?" Ragnor looked at the bright blue liquor in his glass and shook his head as if he was trying to clear it. "Must be stronger than I thought."
An older man dressed in a tux, with a fedora toppling on his head grabbed Ragnor's elbow. Alec couldn't recall Magnus ever talking about a penguin-themed musical on Broadway, but there must have been one. Penguins with hats... Who would pay to see that?
"Ragnor," the man slurred. "Didn't know you were here."
"I didn't know I was here either, Pete," Ragnor responded, rolling his eyes. "And yet, here I am. Have you seen Magnus? My friend here" - he nodded in Alec's direction – "wants to know where he can find him."
"Oh, Magnus's new plaything..." Pete elongated every syllable and people were starting to take notice.
"Not quite," Alec said quickly. The last thing he needed was to draw attention to himself. "Just need to talk to him."
"That warlock broke your heart already, didn't he?" Pete said almost gleeful, narrowing his beady eyes.
Alec immediately decided he didn't like this man. Thankfully he was no longer in Magnus's life in 2017.
Ragnor nodded to the rooftop garden. "You might find him outside, Axel." He then forcefully grabbed Pete by the shoulder. "Let's see if we can find you a cab, Pete."
"Thanks," Alec said, striding outside.
He would've expected to find people outside, because even though it had snowed and it was freezing cold outside, Magnus always warmed the rooftop garden with magical lights. They even had their Christmas-dinner outside this year, looking out over the dazzling New York skyline by night. But right now the lights in the garden were extinguished and the balcony seemed completely abandoned.
Alec was just about to turn around and go back inside when he heard an all too familiar voice coming from behind him. "Well... Hello there, pretty boy. Looks like Ragnor finally got me my Christmas present."
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Chapter 12: THE NIGHT WE MET - 9
"Black hair and blue eyes." Magnus stood up and circled him like a predator stalking his prey. "Ragnor knows exactly how I like them."
"Actually, I only went outside for a bit of fresh air," Alec muttered.
"Sorry, my bad." Magnus held out his hand, not looking sorry at all. "Magnus Bane. Enchanté, pretty boy."
Alec shook Magnus's hand, to baffled to actually say anything.
"Do you have a name, pretty boy?"
"Y-yeah, I do."
Magnus rolled his eyes. "And would you care to share your name with me?"
Magnus's words made something inside Alec clench. Sharing his name with Magnus... Well, Bane-Lightwood certainly had a nice ring to it... But obviously, that's not what 1989-Magnus meant. According to Izzy, Alec's social skills were as subtle and refined as an ax felling a tree and more often than not, he managed to insert his foot firmly in his mouth, but even he wasn't that ignorant.
"Alec... Alexander." He should've stuck with Axel, but for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to give Magnus a fake name.
"Alexander..." Magnus enunciated every syllable as if they felt like a caress on his tongue. "Would you care to sit down with me for a while, Alexander? I promise I'll be good..." He wriggled his eyebrows. "Unless you want me to be bad... Then that can be arranged as well."
Alec couldn't suppress the surge of regret he felt. This was Magnus. Granted, his hair looked a bit different and his make-up was more goth than glam, but it was still Magnus. And yet, it wasn't... This Magnus didn't have the same warm look in his amber eyes as Alec's Magnus. Instead, 1989-Magnus's eyes looked vacant and even though his voice sounded upbeat, to Alec's ears the happy undertone rung false. Most people that didn't know Magnus Bane wouldn't notice the subtle undercurrents of Magnus's despair, but Alec did know Magnus and he immediately recognized when Magnus started to play the part of Magnus, rather than being Magnus.
"Sure, I can stay for a little while," said Alec softly.
"Great!" Magnus chirped in a tone that made Alec wonder how many drinks Magnus had already had. Normally, he wouldn't care, but they needed 1989-Magnus to say his part of the spell after Alec and 2017-Magnus had gone through the portal. "Drink?"
"I'm good, thanks." Rather than sitting, Alec walked to the edge of the balcony. The view of the New York skyline was spectacular from here, even more so now the whole city had been covered with a thick blanket of fluffy snow. The lights twinkling all around them gave the city a magical glow, straight out of a fairy tale. If only the situation they found themselves in didn't have the potential to go nuclear...
"It's beautiful here, isn't it?" The upbeat chirpiness in Magnus's voice had disappeared as if he had decided that he no longer wished to keep up the charade, and it somehow made Alec happy. Even though it would be nearly three decades before this Magnus would meet him, it filled Alec with joy that maybe this Magnus somehow sensed their bond... That when he was with Alec, he never had to feign anything he wasn't feeling.
"Yes, it is." Alec gave Magnus a sideways glance, not having a clue what they could talk about it. Magnus's costume perhaps? Only it didn't look like a costume. It just looked like a regular jeans and T-shirt. A T-shirt that didn't have any glitter on it whatsoever, which was odd. But then again, Alec also wore a pair of jeans and a plain white T-shirt. Apart from the leather jacket and Alec's greasy hair-do, they didn't look that different. "So, you also opted for a..." - Christ, what was that musical called again? – "Lease-look?"
Oh boy, that was probably wrong..."Yeah, the musical," Alec tried, though he was probably too late to hide the fact that he usually zoned out when Magnus talked about musicals. They had been to several Broadway-shows and Alec liked them just fine, but Magnus's desire to talk about them for hours on end and dissect every little detail, was completely lost on him.
Magnus smiled. "You mean Grease, I think. But no, no costume... Left it too long and couldn't get the costume I wanted anymore."
That was a lie. If Magnus set his mind to it, he could make any costume happen in mere minutes and it didn't take a genius to figure out that the only reason Magnus hadn't dressed up, was because he hadn't felt like it. And that was so unlike his Magnus...
"Fair enough," was all Alec said. Calling 1989-Magnus on his lie would probably cut their conversation short and he needed to prevent Magnus going back inside or – God forbid – going into the bedroom.
An uncomfortable silence stretched between them, and the more Alec wrecked his brain to come up with a topic of conversation, the more his mind drew a complete blank.
The music abruptly stopped.
"Ragnor, come on, not again!" someone yelled.
And then the beats of the Buffalo Stance drifted outside on the cold night air, immediately painting a picture in Alec's head of his Magnus dancing around in the kitchen, and how happy and careless he had looked. It hadn't even been forty-eight hours ago, and yet it felt like a lifetime had passed since then.
"I love this song," Alec blurted out, gently swaying to the music. Maybe Magnus wanted to dance? With Alec's two left feet, he would probably end up injuring Magnus, but everything was better than just standing here shrouded in a tension so thick it was nearly palpable.
"You do?" Magnus asked incredulously. "God, I hate it with a vengeance."
Alec's jaw nearly dropped to the floor. "You hate it?" Because Magnus absolutely loved it in 2017.
"Yeah, it's awful. Ragnor brought it with him from the UK and he pretty much has had it on repeat from the moment he arrived. I accidentally" – Magnus made air quotes – "broke the CD, but he just conjured up a new one."
"Well, I love it," Alec asserted. "It's an oldie, but a goodie," he threw in for good measure. When he saw the puzzled expression on Magnus's face, he belatedly realized his mistake. By the Angel, his remarkable talent for shoving his foot in it had reared to the surface again. 'Buffalo Stance' had been an oldie in 2017, but in 1989 the song was probably brand-spanking-new.
"An oldie?" Magnus gave him a look that Alec couldn't quite decipher. "Ragnor said this song just hit the charts in the UK."
"Well, it's an oldie where I come from." It sounded lame, even to Alec's own ears, but it was the only excuse he could come up with.
"So... You're not from around here then?"
"W-well... sort of." By the Angel, why couldn't he just say that he wasn't from around here?
"You're being very cryptic." Magnus looked at him and smiled, but the smile didn't quite reach his eyes. His Magnus always had a mischievous sparkle in his eyes when he laughed, but 1989-Magnus just seemed like a lifeless shell. Even though Magnus had told him about the dark period in his life, it broke Alec's heart to really see what Magnus had been like. So empty... So worn-out.
But calling Alec cryptic? That was an opportunity Alec simply couldn't pass. "Cryptic, me?" Alec grinned, thinking back to the night where Magnus had made cocktails and Alec passed out on his couch. "I'm not being cryptic, I'm being coy."
This time Magnus' smile did reach his eyes and it lit up his whole face, making Alec sigh a silent breath of relief. That sparkle of joy was still inside Magnus, thank the Angel.
"Coy, huh?" Magnus asked.
Alec chuckled. ''I'm working on it."
"So, the Buffalo Stance?" Magnus asked. "Honestly, I would have pegged you as a trash metal-type."
Alec didn't have a clue what thrash metal was, but he just nodded. "I have a varied taste, so to speak."
"Well, what is it about this song that you like?" Disbelief was etched on Magnus's face. "Because quite frankly, I don't get it. It just can't seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a rap song or a pop song."
"Why can't it be both?"
"Because that never works."
And somehow it felt like they weren't talking about the Buffalo Stance anymore.
"That depends," Alec said, leaning forward on the balcony railing, gazing out over the city.
"On what exactly?"
"If you want it enough, I guess." He gave Magnus a sideways glance. "You're not limited to being just one thing. In my opinion, that would make the world a very one-dimensional place."
Magnus shook his head, and the defeat in his eyes nearly did Alec in. "That's the voice of youth speaking... But take it from a bisexual immortal, it's rarely that simple. To just be accepted for who you are, just the way you are... I've lived for centuries and I haven't experienced it, but I always held out hope that someday I would get to feel that, that I would get to be everything to someone and they were everything to me in return. But it never happened. And now I'm just so tired, Alexander... I've seen everything there is to see, I've done everything there is to do several times over, but unless you have someone to share it with, those things tend to lose meaning after a while. And believe me, I know how ungrateful that makes me sound. Most people would kill for immortality and quite a few of them have, but to me, it has become a curse."
It was more than Alec could stand. The Powers-that-Be would probably damn him for this, but he couldn't go back to 2017 without offering this Magnus at least a glimmer of hope that his future held everything he longed for. He would give anything to chase away the shadows in Magnus's eyes, to see that trademark-smile lighting up Magnus's whole face. To make Magnus live, more than just merely exist. "You know, someday someone's going to love you, heart and soul," Alec said softly.
Magnus gave him a disbelieving look. "You're a clairvoyant or something? What makes you say that?"
Because that someone is going to be me... The words were on the tip of Alec's tongue, but he bit them back, knowing that they wouldn't help Magnus. Instead, he shrugged. "I just used to be a lot like you, that's all. Closed off, because I always felt that I couldn't have what I really wanted. But then this guy came along and he just shredded all my walls to pieces. He challenged me to just reach out and grab whatever it was I wanted, and to hell with the consequences."
"Just like that?"
"Hell, no." Alec grinned. "I pushed him away as hard as I could. I even went so far as to walk down the aisle with someone else, a woman. But he showed up, defying every person that was hell-bent on keeping us apart, including me. And I just looked at him and it felt like everything in my life clicked into place for the first time."
"At your own wedding?" Magnus asked incredulously.
"Well, what can I say? I know how to pick my moments. And in my defense it was a marriage of convenience, so fortunately, the bride wasn't too upset about being stood up at the altar. But still, I never should've gotten engaged to her in the first place." He looked at Magnus, trying to reconcile that this defeated version of Magnus with the one that in the future fought tooth and nail for his and Alec's happiness. It wasn't an easy thing to do.
Magnus averted his gaze. "Your boyfriend is a lucky guy." It pained Alec to hear the hollow undertone in Magnus's voice. He wanted to hug Magnus, comfort him and tell him that everything was going to be okay, but he couldn't. As it was, he probably said too much already anyway.
Behind him, Alec heard the balcony door open and close. Alec turned around and saw Cat, a pained look on her face.
"Catarina!" Magnus exclaimed. The fake chirpiness in his voice had returned. "Meet my new friend Alexander. He's -"
"I'm so sorry, Magnus," Cat whispered. One moment a fireball was dancing on her fingertips and the next it hit Magnus, hard.
There was an utter look of betrayal in Magnus's eyes just before his eyes rolled back in his head, and then he slumped to the ground.
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Chapter 13: THE NIGHT WE MET - 10
From behind the glass Magnus saw his former self slump to the ground, only to be caught by Alec, who eased him to the ground. That was Magnus's cue to go outside.
"By the Angel, why did you do that for?" Alec shrieked.
"I didn't have a choice," Cat said, hands raised in defense. "As long as my Magnus was outside, yours had to remain indoors. And the longer your Magnus had to stay inside, the higher the risk he would get caught. Ragnor already gave me a couple of funny looks. And I can't very well draw a time-portal in a room full of people, can I?"
"Well, you should've –" Alec started.
"Yes, and I would have if we had more time." Cat seemed to be losing her patience with Alec. "But we don't. So I'm sorry, but he isn't hurt."
"Then what's that yellow little ball in your hand?" Alec asked.
Magnus hadn't noticed the soft glowing yellow ball in Cat's hand until Alec mentioned it, but one look was enough for him to instantly recognize what it was.
"Those are my memories," Magnus answered, stepping forward and placing a hand on Alec's arm. He didn't dare look at the figure sleeping on the ground, and it wasn't because he feared the world might end if he did. But seeing what he had been like back then filled him with a mixture of sadness and pride. Sadness because the late eighties were definitely among the lowest points in his immortal life, and pride because he had come such a long way since then.
"You... He can't recognize Alec in the future," Cat said. "You understand that, right?"
Magnus swallowed against the lump in his throat. "Yeah, I do."
Cat looked at the swiveling ball dancing on her fingertips, its light growing weaker with every passing second. "But I do believe that I can give this to you now." She stepped forward and when Magnus nodded, she placed her hand on his head.
Memories flooded them, and even though it only were memories of the last hour - barely a drop in the ocean of his immortal life - he immediately recognized how significant those moments here with Alec on the balcony had been. Tears welled upon in his eyes, but he quickly blinked them away, keeping his gaze steadfast on the slumped figure on the ground. There was no time to think about all this now. They had a time portal to conjure and a demon to vanquish, and they had to do it fast, otherwise, he might not even get the time to contemplate about what transpired between Alec and his past-self on the balcony here tonight.
He felt an arm around his shoulder, and when he looked up, Alec's gaze, a mix of concern and tenderness, met his. "You okay?" Alec asked.
Magnus nodded. Gratefulness flooded him. No longer was he that disillusioned man that saw his future stretched out in front of him as an eternity of loneliness. He had Alec looking out for him, and friends that had his back when he needed them.
Cat looked at her watch. "It's 8.43 AM, you two really should get going, because we don't know how long it will take you to get back to your time. I will wake up my Magnus" – she gestured to Magnus's sleeping form on the floor – "as soon as you've made your way through the portal. So –"
"Hang on," Alec interjected. "How do we know we will go back to the right time?"
Cat sighed. "That's the glitch in our plan, I'm afraid. From what I gathered, the timestamp and place of arrival remains pretty much the same: you left your time at around 7 PM and you roughly ended up in 1989 sometime after 7 in the exact same place. But as for the date... Magnus told me he'd been listening to a certain song that reminded him of this evening, but then it would have made more sense for him to arrive today rather than yesterday. Or the demon might have pre-programmed the portal for him to arrive here, but that begs the question why –" She shook her head. "No time to think about that now. I'll conjure the portal with 19 January 2017 as its destination and if you think of the same date as well, hopefully it will work out."
Magnus looked at Cat's watch and then fiddled with his own. "Okay, my watch is synced to yours now, Cat." He grabbed Alec's hand, interlacing his fingers tightly with Alec's. "Anytime you're ready, Catarina."
Cat nodded, spoke some words in a forbidden ancient language that Magnus himself barely recognized anymore and then she conjured a portal. She had her eyes squeezed shut and sweat was beading on her forehead, indicating that saying the spell took an enormous amount of effort. Magnus did a silent prayer she wouldn't pass out.
"Thanks for everything, Cat," Magnus whispered.
"Thank me in 2017," she whispered. "Go!"
Magnus gave Alec a brief nod and together they stepped forward into the swirling portal. Immediately it felt as if they were sucked into a nauseating nothingness and they started to turn and turn... images flashed in front of him, but they were traveling so fast he couldn't make out what they were. And then it stopped... It felt as if they had been traveling at the speed of light when somebody suddenly decided to pull the emergency breaks. They tumbled on Magnus's balcony, unable to remain on their feet because of the enormous forward momentum they had.
"Whoa!" Magnus shouted.
Alec turned and cushioned Magnus's fall, protecting him with his body. "You okay?"
Magnus nodded. His stomach felt as if it had been turned inside out and tied into a dozen complicated knots. "Yeah. You?" He stumbled to his feet and reached out a hand to Alec.
"They made it!" Izzy came running outside. "Thank the Angel, they made it!" She pulled Alec and Magnus in a tight hug. "I was so, so scared..."
Guess they made it back to the right time then...
"There you are." Jace sauntered outside, looking as if he hadn't worried one bit about their safe return, but the bags under his eyes spoke volumes. "Alec, the eighties called, they want their hairdo back."
"Hil-fucking-larious," Alec said. "And just so you know, this style is not representative of the eighties, it's taken out of the musical Lea... eh, Grease which takes place in the late fifties."
Magnus chuckled. At least their little trip to 1989 had given Alec some knowledge on musicals.
"Well, Jace's jokes still suck, so it looks like we've made it back to the right time." Alec grinned. To Magnus's utter relief the Deflect-rune in Alec's neck was back as if it had never been away. Hopefully, his magic would be back as well... It had to be, otherwise they would have a hard time banishing the demon.
"What's the date, Jace?" Magnus asked.
"19 January 2017," Magnus heard Cat's voice behind him. "At exactly 8.57 PM." She handed him the White Book. "You know what to do?"
Magnus nodded, flicking through the pages until he had found the right one. He had hoped for more time with the demon, but apparently, their journey through time had taken them a good fifteen minutes. "Did you manage to get anything out of her?"
Cat shook her head. "I tried, but she wouldn't budge."
"Okay. I figured as much. But thanks anyway." He walked inside and came face-to-face with the demon, now safely locked behind bars, who had put him and Alec in terrible danger, and yet... She inadvertently had given his past-self hope of a better future. Which was why he was here today, with Alec and with Shadowhunters and Downworlders he had come to regard as his family. If Alec hadn't shown up that night in 1989...
"I'm not going to ask you who send you," Magnus said in a quiet voice. She still wore that long black overcoat, but her blonde hair looked ragged and disheveled as if she had been plucking and tearing at it for hours on end. Her eyes were still pools of infinite darkness, so it was hard to gauge if she had even heard him. "Because there isn't time and I don't think you're going to tell me anyway." He swallowed. "And I presume that whoever summoned you didn't have good intentions, but I want to to thank you and them anyway... because it turned out well."
"Well, that's all that matters then, isn't it?" The demon's voice sounded raspy, as if she hadn't used her voice in a very long time.
Magnus sighed. "I'm afraid it won't be that simple." Again, he glanced at his watch. 8.59 PM. He felt Alec's reassuring hand on his shoulder and then the numbers on the display changed to 9 PM. Showtime. "Cre vs'zyck cre wčež... azu'crrighz azu'qwerž..."
Magnus looked up. There was no bang, no fire... One moment the demon was there, the next she was gone, as if nothing had happened. She hadn't even left a trace of demonic residue behind.
"Did it work?" Alec asked.
Magnus shrugged. "I honestly don't know. She's gone, but..." He would've thought the demon would put up more of a fight, that she would've tried to bargain with him... It was almost as if she had wanted to leave this realm.
"I think we did it," Cat said.
Magnus smiled and pulled Cat into a hug. "That hug was long overdue, I think."
"Neary thirty years overdue," she said, patting him on the back.
"What happened after we left?" Magnus asked.
"I woke you up and had you... Your past-you say the spell. You thought it was some sort of inner-healing spell or something," Cat said. "After that, you claimed to be tired and ended the party at exactly 9.05 PM. Then you went to bed."
"Yeah, that's how I remember it as well."
"So where do we go from here?" Cat asked.
Magnus paused. He had given the matter a lot of thought but it hadn't been easy to come up with an answer. His first priority was keeping Cat and Alec safe from any potential backlash but regardless, it would still be like swimming in a shark-infested pool with a bleeding wound. Someone was bound to suffer from this, and he just had to make certain that that person was going to be him.
"I think we should inform the Clave." Alec's voice interrupted his gloomy thoughts.
"What? No!" Informing the Clave would put Alec firmly in the eye of the storm.
"Yes, I think we should." Alec walked towards him and put his hands on Magnus's shoulders and looked him deep in the eyes. "Look, I'm not going to do anything you don't want me to do, but what happened... That demon didn't show up on his own and conveniently threw us back in time, Magnus. All I'm saying is, this is bound to come out. If we inform the Clave, we'll gain the upper hand." He gently started to rub Magnus's shoulders. "We can dictate the story, prove that we have nothing to hide. And I'll make sure that nothing will happen to you or Cat, okay?"
"It's not me I'm worried about," Magnus whispered.
"I know that," Alec said. "And that's actually what worries me. Look, you and Cat have the final call in this, but this is what I think we should do."
At times like these Magnus could see what a great leader Alec was. Yes, he might not be adept at sugarcoating things, but he wasn't afraid to take charge and make decisions in difficult situations. But if the Clave found out Alec had helped Magnus in covering up their tumble through time, his career would be over... He could even lose his runes, and Magnus had seen how devastated Alec had been when they were erased from his skin in 1989. "Very well," Magnus sighed. "We'll inform the Clave. If Cat agrees to this as well, that is?"
Cat nodded. "I think it's the right course of action to take. It will all work out, Magnus."
Hopefully, it did, but he wasn't too sure about it. Since his ill-advised siding with the Seelie Queen, his position on the Inquisitor's list of favorite persons had taken a nosedive. But then again, she never really cared much for him to begin with anyway.
"I'm going to head home," said Cat. "You set up a meeting with the Clave, Alec?"
Alec nodded. "Yeah, I'll get on that right away." He held up his cell phone. "Glad I can use this baby again. Seriously, how did you guys get by without modern technology?" he asked as he walked outside.
Magnus took a deep breath. There was no turning back now.
"It will be alright, Magnus," Cat tried to reassure him.
He just hoped that she was right.
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Chapter 14: THE NIGHT WE MET - 11
About half an hour later Alec came back inside. "Still very warm for this time of year." He stood still and looked around. "Everyone left?"
"Yeah, they all headed home. Izzy said she'll call you tomorrow."
"Okay," Alec said. "Well, I just spoke to the Inquisitor. I explained the situation to her and she's coming down to the New York Institute tomorrow to talk about it." He sighed and sat down next to Magnus. "I guess that's all we can do for now."
Magnus looked as if he were miles - or years - away. "Sure, Alexander."
Alec looked at Magnus. "I think I'm going to dance naked on this table in glitter and pink feathers."
"You've not listened to a word I said," Alec said, pulling Magnus against him so Magnus's head came to rest in Alec's lap.
"Sorry, it's just..." Magnus looked at Alec, his eyes without its usual amber-colored glamor. Every time they were together like this, with Magnus not bothering to glamor his cat-eyes, Alec felt a surge of pride because he knew that he was one of the very few people that Magnus let get close enough to see this side of him. "That demon didn't even try to fight me banishing her back to her own realm. At first, I thought someone had sent us through time in order to be able to put a price on my head, but if they wanted to get rid of me, why not just send me to the Middle Ages? Without magic, we never would've been able to get back from there."
"We don't know for certain if the person or demon conjuring the portal is also in charge of the destination. You played a song on the radio that triggered some memories. Maybe the fact that that was still lingering in your subconscious decided our destination. And when we went back, we firmly had this date in our mind."
"Maybe..." Magnus said. But he didn't sound convinced.
"Well, what's your theory?" Alec said.
"It's complicated," Magnus began. "We know from Clary that there is at least one alternate dimension, that mainly originated because at some point in time the threat of demons was erased and Shadowhunters were no longer needed. So, what if there's an alternate dimension in which you didn't kick my ass into gear? What if I had –"
"Don't say that," Alec said, a lump forming in his throat. "You don't know that, Magnus."
"I know, it's just..." Magnus sighed. "Maybe someone had a vested interest in keeping me alive." He put a finger on Alec's lips, probably sensing that Alec wanted to protest. "No, don't say it. Whatever way you turn it, that night was a turning point in my life, Alec. I was on the slippery slope towards self-destruction, and meeting you somehow changed that."
"Sending us back in time to change that seems rather convoluted to me," Alec said. "Especially since sending us through that portal put you in danger as well. Why go through the trouble of saving you in 1989, only to put you at risk in 2017?"
"Fair point," said Magnus but Alec could tell he wasn't convinced.
"I know you would've made it through without me, Magnus," Alec whispered, softly stroking Magnus's hair. "I know it was bad, but you came back from all that, and you did it long before you met me."
"But you –"
"I didn't do anything. Until tonight you didn't even remember meeting me in 1989."
"But subconsciously I must've recognized you."
Alec shrugged. "Maybe. Look, all I'm saying is that you wouldn't have lasted thirty years on a chance meeting alone. I might have given you the tiniest nudge in the right direction, but you had to walk the rest of the road by yourself. And as for who send that demon... Let's just keep our options open for now, okay?"
Magnus nodded. "Okay. This whole time-traveling, alternate universe business is just too confusing to contemplate on a Saturday night. Especially when I have Danny Zuko here with me."
Alec grinned. "Well, at least we can be certain that there's no alternate universe in which I'm an actor in a musical."
"No, but I can totally picture you as a rockstar. Your runes would be your tattoos."
"A rockstar?" Only the thought of performing in front of an audience made him want to run for the hills. "Not likely. And what will you be then, the lead singer?"
"That role will suit Jace better, I think. No, I'll be the CEO of your record company obviously," Magnus said, closing his eyes. "Warlock Inc. Sounds good, huh?"
"Well, it would be good if I could at least somewhat carry a tune," Alec said. "But yeah, who knows what other alternate universes exist out there."
Magnus opened one eye. "Speaking of this universe - you were being coy?"
A flush spread across Alec's cheeks. "I was improvising!"
"Improvising? You blatantly stole my line, Mr. Lightwood."
Alec gave him a smug grin. "Well, as I said it in 1989, you technically stole mine." He stifled a yawn. "You're ready for bed yet? I'm exhausted."
"Nearly," Magnus said. He stood up and walked to his desk, retrieving a small packet. "I've had this for a couple of weeks now, but I..." He averted his gaze. "Well, I hadn't plucked up the courage yet to give it to you, so... Open it."
Alec looked at the small rectangular present Magnus held out to him and started unwrapping it. It was a white, metal plate, adjourned with glitter and their names in swirly letters.
A. LIGHTWOOD & M. BANE
Alec swallowed against the lump forming in his throat. "Is this –"
"If you want," Magnus said quickly. "Look, it's no big deal, but since you're practically here most of the time anyway, I thought... But if you don't want to, that's fine..."
"Don't want to?" Alec echoed. "Of course I want to!" He pulled Magnus close and kissed him softly. "I would love to move in with you, Magnus."
Relief spread all over Magnus's face and Alec's heart bled a little when he realized how scared Magnus had been that Alec would turn his offer down. "I'm going to hang this next to our doorbell tomorrow," he said softly, loving the fact that from now on he could refer to the doorbell as being theirs. "The old-fashioned way, with hammer and nails. Because I want each and every passerby to see that we've moved in together. And then when I injure myself, which is bound to happen because my DIY-skills are even worse than Izzy's cooking skills, you can heal me and kiss it all better. And then I'll cook you dinner, and we finally have that date night we were supposed to have yesterday."
"I would like that," Magnus whispered, pressing a kiss to Alec's lips. "And I think I'm ready for bed now, Alexander. Our bed."
A/N: And that puts us at the end of this story, my lovelies! Thanks for sticking with Malec's adventures in time-travel for so long. Every vote, every comment, and every read means the world to me! For tomorrow I have a little epilogue planned with 1989-Magnus, but for now, I'm going to close my laptop and celebrate New Year's Eve. Happy 2018!
A/N 2: Yeah, the whole 'Alec might be a rockstar'-talk is a reference *cough* shameless plug* to my Malec AU-story in which - no prizes for guessing here - Alec is a grumpy rockstar and Magnus is the CEO of a record company Warlock Inc. It can be found here, if you like to check it out: https://my.w.tt/UiNb/dNxtL0fSkJ
* Thoughts? Comments? *
* Let me know what you think! *
Chapter 15: THE NIGHT WE MET - EPILOGUE
20 January 1989
Magnus woke to the sound of ‘Buffalo Stance’ blasting from the speakers. “Ugh… Too early, Ragnor,” he muttered, pulling a pillow over his head to drown out the sounds of a song that to his surprise was kind of growing on him.
What surprised him even more, was that for the first time in forever, he didn’t feel like staying in bed all day.Was it that cleansing chant that Cat made him do last night? He recalled some bits and pieces of the conversation he had with her last night, but the details were a bit muddled. Could be because he had too much liquor, but strangely he didn't feel hungover at all. He looked at his walk-in wardrobe, and an ember of excitement ignited in his heart. For some reason, he felt like dressing up and donning some glittery make-up. He hadn’t felt like doing that for a long time. But first, he needed coffee to clear the cobwebs in his head.
He stepped out of bed, feeling as if some of the weight he had been slugging around during the last century, had been removed from his shoulders.
“Care for some coffee, Magnus?” Ragnor shouted from the kitchen.
“Got one!” Magnus yelled back, quickly conjuring a mug of steaming hot coffee for himself as Ragnor’s coffee was strong enough to raise the dead. One sip of that, and Magnus would be like the energizer bunny on crack for the rest of the day and he was actually enjoying that feeling of tranquility inside him.
Magnus walked into the living room, somewhat relieved when he noticed that someone had already taken it upon themselves to tidy up. His gaze fell on the purple couch and the overly-bright walls that gave him a headache just by looking at it. He really should redecorate the place to something more… relaxing. Something that would make this place feel like home again.
“I’m going to head back, mate,” Ragnor said. “You fancy coming over to England sometime soon?”
“Yes,” Magnus said, feeling a jolt of pain when he saw the startled look on Ragnor’s face. His friend had clearly expected Magnus to decline his invitation. How long had he been doing that? How long had he been shutting Cat and Ragnor out of his life? And yet, they were still here for him... Just like they always had been there for him. “I very much like to come to England. How does Wednesday sound?”
“Splendid! That Axel-fellow must have cheered you up then,” Ragnor said, clearly overjoyed at the prospect of Magnus paying him a visit on his home turf. “He still here by the way?” he asked as he took a not so subtle peek into Magnus’s bedroom.
“Axel?” Magnus couldn’t remember talking to anyone with such an unusual name.
“Yeah, gorgeous guy. Black hair, blue eyes, dressed up as Danny Zuko? He was looking for you.”
Magnus shook his head. It felt as if he was trying to retrieve something from the edge of his mind, but the moment he tried to grasp it, it flittered out of his vision. “Don’t remember seeing him, sorry.”
“He must have left early then. Shame, he was definitely your type,” Ragnor said. “Well, then… See you on Wednesday, my friend.”
Ragnor created a portal and was about to step through it, when Magnus thought of something.
“Hang on a sec,” Magnus said. “Think I could borrow that Neneh Cherry-CD of yours?” He could just as easily get himself a new one, but for some strange reason, he wanted to keep the one that had been playing last night.
“Sure. Told you it was good, didn't I?” Ragnor gave a brief flick with his wrist in the direction of Magnus’s sound system. “It’s in your CD-player.”
“Thanks,” Magnus said, but Ragnor had already vanished into the portal.
Smiling, Magnus clicked his fingers and the song started playing.
“Who’s that gigolo on the street,” he sang as he stepped outside, deciding that pop and rap wasn’t such an atrocious combination after all. Outside, it was still freezing cold, but strangely enough, the shards of ice that had been so firmly lodged in his heart since Camille left him, felt as if they were slowly starting to thaw. The city, still covered in a fluffy, white blanket of snow, looked stunning as it slowly came to life on a lazy Sunday morning and he simply just stood there, enjoying the spectacular view as he took a sip of his coffee that seemed to taste better than it had ever done before.
A smile tugged at his lips. He had no idea what tomorrow would bring, but today... Today was going to be a good day.
T H E E N D
A/N: And that, my lovelies, brings 'The Night We Met' to its conclusion! The story has become a lot longer than I initially planned but I had so much fun writing it! And all your votes and comments definitely kept me going, so thank you so much for that. You guys are awesome! <3 <3
But who knows, I might write a sequel to this in the future, because we (and that includes me, lol) still don't know who summoned the Bari-ritu demon, right? And I quite like to do a story in which Alec and Magnus end up in a parallel universe. We'll see!
I would love to know what you think of this story as a whole, so please feel free to drop me a few lines in the comments. Thanks! :-)