"There is something I think you should know," Raphael says as a greeting when he joins Magnus in Pandemonium. The way he says it makes Magnus think it's an admonishment as well as an offer of new information. Raphael makes himself comfortable on the vacant spot next to him in the VIP lounge, then continues.
"Some members of the clan have been getting a fix of special blood recently. No problems came out of it so far but what matters is, it's omega blood and they buy it from the source."
Before Magnus can ask what's exactly the problem here, since there are no laws preventing anyone from willingly parting with a bit of their blood, Raphael adds, "The blood is also angelic."
"Those who met with him say there are no runes to be seen but they also say he doesn't sell anything besides the blood so I doubt they ever saw his whole body."
Magnus taps his finger on the rim of his cocktail glass. "Unless he's wrapped head to toe there are always some runes beyond collars and sleeves. I'll look into it. Where exactly is this happening?"
"Apparently he's been around Hotel Dumort before without me knowing about it. Later the whole affair moved to you. If I had to guess I'd say it's because Camille's due to be back soon."
Ah. That last bit is probably also information Raphael meant to give to him soon, Magnus guesses.
"So that means your friends were smart enough to keep the source to themselves?"
Or were they protective of the omega?
Raphael shrugs. "If you do something about it it'll save me the trouble of becoming unpopular. The omega wasn't ever seen inside Pandemonium but he comes close enough to be on your territory."
That is a strange thing, for sure. Magnus knows why Raphael is bringing his attention to it, even though it sounds like it solely involves vampires. And the omega with angel blood, who has unknown reasons to sell it.
"Of course, I'll take on another of one of your problems." Magnus teases. "And I'll sate my curiosity. Thank you for letting me know."
Magnus is intrigued enough to start investigating the same night. After several conversations with bouncers at the entrance and with two or three random vampires he picks out from the partying crowd he knows that the omega shows up two times a week, chooses a client (because there are many willing to pay), lets them drink from his arm and leaves with the money. Everyone confirms the angel blood part. Worryingly, this seems to have been going on for months. Only recently, like Raphael said, they've moved to Magnus's territory. Vampires aren't exactly forthcoming with all the details of their dealings so Magnus is unable to get out of them all he wants to know. Still, he has more than enough to go on.
It wouldn't be wise to make a lot of noise around this case if he wants to meet the Nephilim rather than just scare him or his vampire clients away. So Magnus waits, goes to the club every night and keeps alert.
It's three more nights before one of his men at Pandemonium brings him the information the omega has shown up. Magnus excuses himself from a little ring of a not very riveting conversation he's joined to pass his time and goes outside.
He comes upon a scene in an alley. It is indeed very close to the club so it's relatively safe with soft lights reaching it and within shouting distance from other people.
A pair is standing by the wall on the left side of the narrow alley. A vampire, who looks pretty average as far as his build and clothes go, is facing a man standing between the wall and himself. Magnus can't see his face in the shadows, only that his hair appears as black as his clothes.
There are no signs of distress that Magnus can see or sense so he doesn't step in. There's no reason why he shouldn't just walk right in on them and demand explanation… but that would be unsubtle and rude. Magnus trusts his eyes better than the words of people he doesn't know.
What his eyes tell him is that it does look like a trade. He must have caught the very beginning of it: the dark-haired omega is leaning on the wall casually, one leg bent and heel of his black boot resting against the brick. The position puts his eyes on a lower level than the vampire who's standing very close, one hand resting on the wall beside the omega's head. It's a creepy kind of intimate, even if they're not doing anything but talking.
The talking part doesn't last very long, however, and the omega lifts up his left arm, which the vampire takes without hurry or hint of violence. Then, predictably, he bites into the bared part of the offered wrist. While he drinks, the omega leans his head back against the wall and closes his eyes, waiting.
Now Magnus can see his face better, brought out from the shadows into a stream of yellow and pink light. He is young, attractive. Not a surprise considering his dynamic. If Magnus was a vampire he'd probably be able to smell the blood in the air by now and tell if it truly is angelic. What he can tell is that there really aren't any runes visible on the man. None on his long neck and none on the uncovered forearm. He might be Nephilim who was never given runes. He might even not know what he is, only that it pays to share the strange blood.
The omega decides when the deal is complete and makes it clear to the vampire. Pulling his arm back, he presses his right hand over the wound. The vampire lingers, saying something to him, which Magnus imagines is some sweet-talking. The omega listens to it but doesn't return it. Eventually, the vampire leans in to press a quick kiss to the omega's lips and leaves.
Magnus waits. He has to know where the strange omega stays when he’s not here. He probably won't want to linger around with a fresh wound and with luck might be going straight home.
Once the vampire is gone, the omega reaches into his inner jacket pocket and pulls out a gray packet of some sort. Bandages, Magnus realizes. The man wraps his forearm in quick, practiced moves and puts the packet away, fixes his jacket and begins to walk out of the alley.
Magnus follows, having concealed his presence with a spell to make things easier for himself.
It’s a leisurely walk. The omega isn’t in a rush to get to wherever he’s heading or he simply enjoys the evening. He moves with grace, carried by his long legs. He's tall and rather slender but Magnus has been around long enough to know hidden strength when he sees it.
The street they eventually turn to is known for Downworlder presence. The quiet, reasonable kind of Downworlders, such as werewolf families with children. The omega stops in front of one house and pulls out a key that he uses to open the front door instead of using the intercom. Good, that means he actually lives here and isn't visiting. The building itself is a perfectly boring, common townhouse in a lower class but a mostly respectable neighborhood.
A hunch tells Magnus to wait before approaching. That hunch turns out to be just right when no more than five minutes later a woman leaves the house, strap of her bag across her shoulder and lit phone in her hand. She's not really looking at the street, paying attention to the phone instead. It looks like she'll be gone for a good while, whoever she is and wherever she's going.
Walking closer, the warlock lets himself into the dimly-lit staircase and easily tracks the omega to the right front door by his fresh scent.
There's a white button for the bell beside the door so he uses it once. A distant sound of ringing, muffled by the front door reaches his ears so he knows it works. He also knows the omega is inside right now. So he's patient when no one rushes to the door to answer. After a long while, he presses the button again, meaning to make it clear he's not leaving.
Finally, he gets what he wanted. The door is unlocked and opened, and behind it stands the omega. He has a swaddled infant in his arms and that… that ruins what Magnus has planned to say completely. In fact, for a few seconds, he is speechless, because there's such clear familial resemblance between the child and the omega that it has to be his. Same dark hair, same eyes. No warlock marks that Magnus can see but that doesn't automatically mean the child is pure Nephilim.
They stand on opposite sides of the door, Magnus staring at the child and the omega frowning at Magnus.
"I apologize for the late visit." The warlock says when he finally shakes the surprise off. "I thought I might talk to you? My name is Magnus Bane,"
"The High Warlock of Brooklyn, I know." The other man says calmly. "I knew you’d notice me eventually."
"Did you expect me to notice sooner?"
"Yes, but I didn't want you to. I'm on your territory, uninvited. Unmated."
"I have to say, I'm quite in the dark when it comes to your… situation. You are a Shadowhunter, correct?"
"I used to be."
"Were you banished?"
A nod. The omega hasn't told him to go to hell so far, so Magnus asks, "Would you like to have this conversation inside?"
He doesn't nod this time, just steps aside to make room for Magnus to step inside, then closes and locks the door. He doesn't offer Magnus a seat so he remains standing, watching the omega make his way to a plain brown couch on the left side of the living room. There he gently lays the infant in a ring made of blue blankets, where it's safe and cosy. When he steps back from the couch, he no longer obscures from Magnus's sight the other side of it. A second child, a blue child is lying on its back, raising and lowering its arms without much coordination and tracking the omega's movement with its dark eyes. Now that has to be a warlock.
Magnus frowns, confused. He's no expert on child development but he can tell just by looking at this tiny pair that it's impossible for both of them to be the omega's. They're not twins and they're too close in apparent age to be conceived, carried and given birth to by the same parent. It's biologically impossible. So one of them must be someone else's. Because of the dark-haired infant's looks, Magnus assumes it's the blue warlock who came from somewhere else. Would it be rude to start off by asking about it?
Either way, Downworlder children - even just one – seal the deal on making the omega Magnus's responsibility. No longer a member of the Institute and left to fend for himself in a world like theirs… Magnus is the High Warlock and he can't walk away.
"When did you come here?" He asks. Better to start at the beginning.
The omega, who in the meantime began a nervous task of picking up various items that didn't really need tidying, appears to do some mental math.
"Eight months ago. Unless you mean specific here, rather than the city in general. I've been with Karla for several weeks before Jon was born."
Magnus takes that in. "You were pregnant when you left."
"The woman who just left is a vampire, am I right?" He can smell vampire presence in this house and since it's as clear as omega's own scent then it must belong to someone living here.
"I got lucky meeting her. She offered me a room."
Magnus doesn't ask if he pays her with blood or the money from selling to other vampires. It's none of his business and a sure-fire way to make the man put an end to this conversation.
"Now I know your host's name and you know mine yet I still don't have a name to put to your face?"
"You're keeping your family name to yourself?"
"There's no family to connect it to."
Magnus knows this doesn't mean the ex-Shadowhunter is an orphan. Orphans treat their surnames in a different way than this.
This might just be one of the most awkward encounters in his life. Magnus thinks about it standing in the middle of the living room while the omega, Alec, resumes his fidgeting.
He's moving around but always stays between the couch and Magnus, never fully turned back to him. Shadowhunter's drive to be vigilant and a parent's drive to protect must be fueling him around a warlock he doesn't know and who is right inside his home. Staying put in the same spot he's standing seems to Magnus like the best thing to do for now while attempting to have this conversation done.
"I can't help but notice the child is a warlock." The child in question, who might be 4 or 5 or even 6 months old is raising his hands up whenever Alec gets closer and smiles every time he's paid attention to.
The omega rolls his eyes at that. "My children are both warlocks."
"And the delightfully blue one is also…?"
"He was left in my care. He's mine."
"I see. Is there anyone else you could ask for help? This place isn't bad, I'll be fair, but I've been told about what you do for a living. And you have a vampire for a babysitter."
"She's young. Didn't have time to turn jaded and she's trying to hold onto her mundane career."
Magnus takes note of how the ex-Shadowhunter defends the vampire. He also takes note of how he didn't address the other part of what Magnus just said.
How did he get into this situation? First, how did he manage to get pregnant while still being a Shadowhunter? There are only two ways to create a warlock child and one of them seems impossible to have happened here. Warlocks are only able to father a child – or become a mother – with a bonded mate and there's no bond, broken or otherwise, that he can sense on this omega. Even if his potential warlock partner had been killed, widowers didn't just become cleanly bondless. Which leaves only the other scenario, the worse one. It's too early to ask about it when at any moment the omega might decide he's had enough and ask Magnus to leave.
While Magnus considers this, the other man turns defensive. His arms are crossed on his chest and the way he's looking at him tells him he's not kicked out yet only because of who he is – an alpha and the High Warlock.
"I didn't break any laws." The omega says. "If you want me to I can leave. As I said, I know I'm uninvited on your territory."
"I don't think you can just leave. Where will you go?"
"I don't know but I won't be your problem."
He might not be his problem but he'd still be his concern.
Magnus looks at the children. Unless he's glamoured by an adult warlock, the omega won't be able to take the blue baby out to the city unless completely swaddled in clothes or blanket.
"They will both need magical education and practice," Magnus says carefully. "They might not show any magic for a long time or they might start having accidents very soon. It's impossible to predict. You can be a wonderful parent but you can't give them protection or magical advice. And it will get either them or you hurt. Possibly both."
"I would figure it out when needed."
"I believe you'd look for help. I also believe it might be harder than you imagine to find a tutor or at least someone able to put a glamour on them. I can provide all of it and I'm here, willing to help you right away. Magical protection and education. Aside from that, better living conditions, obviously."
"I'm not giving away my children." Alec snaps and takes a few steps back from where Magnus stands even if there's absolutely nothing he could do should the warlock attack him. Magnus puts his hands up. He's feeling calm, if sad on behalf of the banished omega so it's not difficult for him to project the calm onto the other man. Being alive for centuries has done wonders for his control over his emotions and the perks that come with his dynamic. He can't be obvious about it, since omegas have always been very adept at sensing when they're being smothered with projections.
"That's not what I suggested. The thought didn't even cross my mind, I promise. I want to take you all in. You're their father and they need you, especially this young."
Alec stares at the High Warlock. He isn't sure what the man wants to achieve here. Of course, he's interested in any warlock children that would eventually come into their own magic in his city, but he isn't known for actually fostering any in recent times. So could it be that he's interested in them because there is an adult omega in the deal? Does he imagine taking the three of them literally into his own home to have a live-in omega bound to him by debt?
Next question is: does Alec mind? If it took him off the street, gave him a guarantee his children would never go hungry or lacking anything, if he wasn't hurt in the process, would it be so bad?
He's never given more than his blood to the vampires. More than one kissed him but they weren't bold enough to try to pressure him. At first, his pregnancy had protected him and later they knew him so no one wanted to risk being stupid enough to harm an omega. They could go out and fuck anyone else but they couldn't get his blood anywhere else. Whoring himself out would only make them think they could have all of him. Besides, bringing back the scent of a stranger on himself into his nest made his skin crawl just thinking about it.
If he went with the warlock, it would be different. He would live surrounded by the alpha's belongings and his scent. Alec would keep his blood where it belonged and he could give his body to the alpha instead. It has already been used by a demon anyway.
Karla was kind to him but she was only a temporary band-aid on his problems. If she got the job she's been hoping for so badly she would eventually move away too.
If the High Warlock became attached to him or at least to Alec's children, he'd care about their lives in the long-term. Alec might want to keep his freedom but it would be incredibly unwise to antagonize the one alpha with the most literal and metaphorical power in the city. Once he declined his help, a second offer might never come.
"I'll go with you." He says. "Not right now. It's too late and I don't want Karla to come back to an empty house."
"Naturally. How about you go put the babies to sleep, I'll have something ready for you to eat in the meantime and if you're not feeling too tired, we can talk some more."
"I'm not tired," is all the omega says. First, he picks up the younger child, pressing a kiss to the black tuft on top of his head while he carries him to the bedroom. The blue baby, whose name Magnus still doesn't know, looks around the room while making sounds at himself. His cheeks are adorably round and he looks even more round when he grabs for his feet with his hands and tries to pull all his toes closer to his mouth. It makes Magnus smile but he doesn't dare address the child or come any closer without his parent's permission.
When he's picked up by his father a moment later, the child only becomes encouraged to voice his excitement in a way a 5-month old can.
Left alone in the room, Magnus sits down at the kitchen table. He intends to conjure dinner once Alec comes out of the bedroom, so it's fresh and warm. He spends the time looking around the room: it's what you would expect from any normal person, except there are heavy curtains in each window neatly secured to the wall with pieces of ducktape. Magnus assumes that when the omega is home during the day, there's daylight in the bedroom he's gone into.
The kitchen is open plan, joining with the small living room. There's a TV, bookshelves filled with books and DVD cases. Some colorful knick-knacks from holidays. So it looks like the vampire must be young, as the omega had said, holding onto normalcy.
Behind two other closed doors are probably a bathroom and the lady's bedroom. Magnus doesn't know what she is for sure, most likely a beta. The thing with becoming a vampire is that biology stops to matter in a big way. Vampires lose fertility and stop being affected by the usual biological needs of their dynamic such as heats. Their scent doesn't go away but it's significantly duller, making both omegas and alphas smell more like betas. Some people consider all of those points a great incentive to become a vampire.
About ten minutes later when the omega re-emerges and closes the bedroom door behind him softly, Magnus makes the dinner, including cutlery, ready. Alec eyes the food with suspicion but doesn't say anything against it, just sits down quietly and lifts up his fork.
"Here's what I want to offer to you," Magnus begins, "you'll live at my place and go on about your day as usual with the exception of making shady deals with vampires. I'll provide anything you don't already have for the babies and I'll help whenever you need me to. I can't claim to know much about childcare but I'd like to think I won't be too terrible at it. We can find a suitable babysitter once you're comfortable enough to allow one around."
"You'll leave magical education to me, for obvious reasons. You'll let me help you with anything else you might need. You'll let me protect you to an extent I deem necessary."
Alec thinks none of that is payment but he won't push it for now. If the High Warlock wants to be coy, let him.
"Is there really no one looking for you?"
"The ones at the top aren't looking. There might have been someone but I've hidden for so long they can't possibly still be trying."
"I assume you weren't stripped of your runes months before they sent you away pregnant?"
Magnus watches Alec freeze up. His hand hovers over the plate and his eyes are locked on one of the objects on the table in front of him, unfocused. Then he begins to eat again without saying a word. He doesn't speak and neither does Magnus. They focus on the dinner for a while.
Magnus keeps his thoughts to himself. He doubts very much that the whole local Institute let one of their omegas just be banished and never spared him a second thought. There's simply not enough of them to be discarded when something's wrong with one. Shadowhunters are not his favorite creatures on Earth but they're not uniformly cold and violent. And yet… to strip someone of their runes when they're already in fragile state…
Magnus asked the question for two reasons: for Alec's sake, he would hope there is someone looking with his best interests in heart. On the other hand, there could be also a threat hidden in it.
It is possible that even those who cared about his wellbeing now believe Alec to be dead or gone away from New York if no one among his current Downworlder acquaintances has mentioned his existence to Shadowhunter patrols during past few months.
What if the Clave decided they didn't like a de-runed Shadowhunter running around after all and would rather be rid of him permanently? If they were cruel enough to do it to him while already a month pregnant, they might be capable of doing worse.
Alec eats rather quickly. He doesn't look malnourished beneath the unhealthy look of someone perpetually tired so it's probably because he rarely has something of this quality.
Magnus didn't try to be fancy with this meal but he did try to have diverse set for the omega to choose from. It appears he likes everything. Or he just wants to finish quickly to get rid of his guest. Or he doesn't want to somehow insult him by being choosy.
"When may I come tomorrow?" Magnus asks like the previous question didn't happen at all. The omega answers in kind.
"Um, around ten? I don't know. They- we still sleep a lot. We're usually awake at seven but then it's back for some more bedtime for all of us."
"All right. I'll have the whole day free just for you. How about you give me a call or even a text when you're ready and I'll come." He snaps his fingers to call into existence a card with his number on it.
"You really want to do this?" The omega turns serious gaze to him. "They are small children. They cry or they sleep and you need to be quiet. With two of them, caring for them takes up the majority of my time. I'm going to leave things around your place and forget them. Your trash is going to be full all the time and there's going to be all kinds of smells. I used to hate the formula's smell until I got used to it,"
"Alexander." Magnus reaches across the table to put his hand on Alec's. His fingers twitch but he doesn't pull his hand back. "It's all fine. I know those are things that come with babies. I want you three in a safe place and that's final."
"Okay." He breathes out. Magnus can feel him relax. "I- thanks for the food. Was this like a demo or just a one-time thing to impress me into agreeing?"
"Darling, you can have this every evening, morning or noon if you only ask."
Magnus knows he's doing the right thing when he's rewarded with an honest-to-god blush from the omega. He enjoys the sight for a moment, then stands up and magically returns the table to the state from before dinner.
"I'll let you have the rest of your evening now." He says, motioning at the front door. "May I open a portal inside? Would save me the trouble of looking for a suitable place outside."
"Right, sure. Thank you." Alec pauses, charmingly unsure of how he should feel. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Have a good night."
Alec watches Magnus until he's gone and the last sparks of closing portal disappear.