“You wanted to see me, Captain?”
“Detective Lightwood.” Garroway nods, and Alec takes that as permission to enter. “Take a seat.”
Alec does as he’s told, unable to relax as he takes the only empty chair. The one next to him is already taken, and Alec can't help but glance curiously at the third occupant of the room. The stranger stares unabashedly back, running an appraising eye over Alec as if sizing him up for auction. Clearing his throat pointedly, Alec folds his arms across his chest, and waits for the stranger to meet his gaze. He does, but there’s no hint of embarrassment as he notices Alec watching his assessment.
“This is Magnus Bane.” Garroway says, getting straight to business, “He’s your new assignment.”
“Bane.” Alec repeats, the name familiar, “The one who’s been getting all that hate mail?”
“Hate mail I can deal with.” Magnus says, “You don’t get to where I am without making a few enemies.”
“Right,” Says Alec, “And where is that exactly?”
Magnus gapes at Alec, and Alec would have sworn he heard his captain chuckle, except when he looks over Garroway is looking back with nothing but his usual professionalism.
“Magnus is a key figure in the fashion industry.” Garroway explains, “He’s one of the most sought-after designers in the world, and a celebrity in his own right.”
“Lucian, you flatter me.” Magnus crows, pressing a hand dramatically to his heart, and Alec does a double take. He’s never heard anyone called Garroway by his first name, and suddenly he’s got a very, very bad feeling about all this.
“The threats against Magnus have escalated.” Garroway continues, “At first it was just letters, which Bane ignored, but then he began to receive threatening packages, at which point he brought it to my attention.”
“You mean you dragged it out of me over Sunday lunch.” Magnus says, rolling his eyes fondly. Garroway returns the look with what could almost be an exasperated smile, and now Alec is certain he’s not going to like whatever plan the two of them have concocted.
“What was in the packages?” He asks, trying to get a handle on the situation.
“Clothing, mostly.” Magnus says with a shrug, “Pieces from various collections of mine.”
“All ripped to shreds and covered in animal blood.” Garroway adds pointedly, “We put a protective detail on Magnus, but we think it’s just made whoever’s doing this change their target.”
Turning to fully face Alec, Garroway pushes a case file across the desk. Alec takes it, and opens the file to find a selection of headshots. He doesn’t need to know anything about fashion to recognise them as models, and he skims the report as Garroway continues.
“Five of Magnus’ models have been attacked after his shows. Four of them ended up in hospital, but one of them didn’t make it.”
Alec glances over to Magnus, and instantly sees the guilt in the way the designer bows his head and fusses with the rings on his fingers. Swallowing the lump that has inexplicably risen in his throat, Alec turns back to his captain.
“What do you need?”
“You’re going undercover.” Garroway says, and Alec starts.
“What?” He says, the word slipping out in surprise. Alec’s a great detective, but he’s a terrible actor, and there’s a myriad of reasons he’s never been assigned to an undercover operation.
“I know.” Says Garroway, “But you’re one of my best, and until your partner gets back I can’t be sending you out on cases alone. And to be frank, this operation requires someone of a certain… aesthetic.”
Aesthetic? Alec looks back down at the file, and suddenly the apprising look Magus had given him when he walked in makes all too much sense.
“You’re sending me undercover as a model? With all due respect sir, you can’t be serious?”
“I fail to see the problem.”
“Have you seen these people, sir?” Alec says, gesturing to the file in his lap, “There’s no way anyone would believe it.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, Detective Lightwood.” Magnus interjects, “You do own a mirror, don’t you?”
“I-” Alec starts, but for once he’s struck dumb. The only bright side is that Jace isn’t here to laugh at him, but then again if Jace wasn’t busy trying to infiltrate Valentine’s gang then Alec wouldn’t be in this ridiculous situation in the first place.
“It’s not a suggestion, Lightwood. You’re handsome, and tall, and Magnus will do the rest.” Garroway says, in a tone that brokers no room for argument, “The details are in the file. You’ll be staying with the rest of the models in a hotel near the studio, and Magnus has gracefully agreed to provide you with a wardrobe suitable for your cover story. I expect you to familiarise yourself with each of the victims and do your best to ensure that whoever’s behind this chooses you as their next target. Understood?”
“Yes sir.” Alec replies, suitably chastised. As he focuses on the five headshots staring at him from the open file, he’s suddenly reminded of why he joined the NYPD in the first place. He’s still far from convinced that anyone in their right mind would believe that he’s a model, but if strutting down a catwalk will prevent innocent people from being beaten half to death, then Alec will do the best goddamned strut the world has ever seen.