“Ugh, give me a break,” Izzy groaned, shoving at Alec’s middle. “My sweat is sweating.”
“Just admit that I win and I’ll stop,” Alec grinned, pushing his dripping hair back from his face.
Izzy glared at him. “Never.” She ducked out of the way of Alec’s blunted angel blade and grabbed her towel, patting at her neck and forehead.
“Gotta wear you out, Iz, otherwise you’ll be awake all night worrying about Mom.” Alec spun his sword between his fingers, watching Izzy as they circled around the room.
“Ooooh, bringing up Mom to try to throw me off my game? That tactic wore out like ten years ago, Alec,” Izzy sneered, and Alec laughed.
“So you’re totally fine with her coming to visit?” He asked as Izzy ran forward to slash at him, effortlessly dodging it.
Izzy tossed her hair over her shoulder and kicked off Alec’s thigh, flipping over the top of him to jab at his butt.
“Hey!” He yelped, his hand flying down to his backside. The point of the sword might be blunted, but it was gonna leave a bruise for sure.
“Sorry, forgot only Magnus was allowed to poke you there.” Izzy taunted, and Alec laughed in outrage, going to kick her legs out from under her only to overbalance and end up on his stomach with a well-timed kick from Izzy. She put her foot on his back triumphantly. “Now who’s the one who’s easily distracted?”
Alec rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright. Uncle. Let me up.”
Izzy smirked and took her foot off him, letting him roll over and jump back up to his feet. “And no, I am not fine with her coming to visit. When she finds out that she’s literally God’s gift to humanity, she’s going to revert back to her holier than thou self and you know it.”
“We don’t know that,” Alec shrugged, “she’s been pretty great lately. She texted Magnus the other day. Out of nowhere. Asked for a cocktail recipe.”
“Okay, that’s…Pretty cute,” Izzy admitted, her eyes scrunching up with her smile. “I don’t know, I just… Everything has been so good the past three months, now that Valentine’s been locked down, and… Don’t you get the feeling that something terrible is about to happen?”
“Jesus, Iz,” Alec chuckled, tossing his towel away. “No, I don’t. We have control of OUR Institute, we’re both in loving, healthy relationships, the downworld is safe, relations are better than ever… I’m enjoying the moment.” He slung his arm around her shoulder. “You should too.”
Izzy nodded slowly, her lips pursed. “I know. Pessimist in me, I guess.”
“Well, tell the pessimist to be quiet. Enjoy the peace.”
Izzy looked up at Alec, letting him steer her out of the training room. “You’re right, big brother. Thank you.”
Alec went to drop a kiss to the top of her head, but recoiled, but nose screwing up. “Man, you really need to shower.”
Izzy shoved him so hard he banged his elbow on the doorframe.
“I can’t believe you’re up to 30 already,” Maia laughed as she stepped out into the sun, glancing over her shoulder at Clary, who was chugging a protein shake.
Clary shrugged one shoulder, smacking the sports cap down on her bottle. “You know I don’t do anything by half.”
Maia leaned against the wall of the gym, glancing up and down the street to check for a bus. “Yeah, but… I swear it was only last week you put it up to 25.”
“It was three weeks ago, babe.” Clary snorted.
“Three weeks?!” It sounded way too long; the summer was slipping away so fast. Maia had volunteered to be Clary’s gym buddy when she mentioned offhandedly in the Hunter’s Moon that the Institute didn’t have a treadmill, and she and Maia’s training regime had escalated to include strength as well as cardio.
“Yep,” Clary confirmed, “and honestly I don’t know how I’m standing right now. My legs feel like jelly.”
“Hope you don’t have patrol in the morning,” Maia smirked.
“Nah, an iratze when I get home’ll sort it out.” Clary assured her, “Alec’s a bitch, he won’t give me a day off for gym pain.”
“You ever been to the gym with Alec? He’s a fucking machine. His legs literally gave out once and he still kept on going. Dude’s a masochist.”
“And a sadist,” Clary huffed, which made Maia laugh. “But we love him.”
“We do,” Maia agreed. “You know, I heard of this new boxing club for women they’re opening here, and I considered asking you and Izzy to come, and then I remembered that you’re both basically ninjas, so…”
“Yeah, better give that one a miss,” Clary laughed. “But if you see any yoga classes let me know, because Izzy seriously needs to relax.”
Maia quirked her eyebrow. “Oh?”
“She keeps talking about how she has a bad feeling, like something terrible’s going to happen. She checks that Valentine is still in his cell every day at the crack of dawn, still calls all the downworld leaders in for meetings every week like we’re on the brink of war… I don’t know,” Clary sighed, “she just can’t let war-mode go.”
“I mean, she was raised to fight in wars. It must be hard having that taken away.” Maia pointed out, “but if I see any yoga classes advertised, you guys will be the first people I call.”
Clary smiled. “Thanks, Maia, I appreciate it.”
Maia looked at her warmly, and for a few long moments they held eye contact.
“I should get back, Izzy’s probably making the decision to cook and…”
“Eugh, yes, go,” Maia groaned, “I gotta get to work anyway. See you Wednesday?”
With a nod, Clary hitched her gym bag higher on her shoulder and headed back to the Institute, only a few blocks away. She’d been spending a lot of time with Maia lately, between their trips to the gym everyday and the two of them hanging out with Izzy at the Hunter’s Moon a couple of times a week. She’d grown really fond of the other woman, and she knew that Izzy felt the same way. The two of them had become fierce friends once more through the downworld cabinet, working together on a campaign to have Valentine executed. Izzy and Clary were still toying with the idea of asking Maia to join their relationship, but a sense of uncertainty held Clary back. How would it work? What if one person started to feel neglected by the other two? What if someone wanted to back out but felt too worried to say anything?
Clary liked Maia, a lot. She just wasn’t sure if she was capable of loving Maia as hard as she loved Izzy, at the same time as loving Izzy. Wouldn’t her heart just burst?
“Oh, you made it,” Cat breathed as she opened the door to see Magnus. “Come in, come in. Dot’s in bed.”
Madzie peeked out from Dot and Cat’s bedroom, smiling tentatively at Magnus as he approached. She didn’t say anything, but she did laugh as Magnus swept her up into his arms.
“How’s my little sweetpea doing, hmm?” He fussed, and she shrugged, her skinny arms tightening around his neck. Magnus hummed, and carried her into the bedroom.
Dot was sitting up in bed, and rolled her eyes when she saw that Catarina had called Magnus all the way over. “I’m fine,” she insisted, “just a little run down.”
“Well, it’s about time to administer the potion again, so that makes sense.” Magnus assured her, “how’s your sleep?”
“Both she and Madzie are having trouble,” Cat answered as Dot opened her mouth to speak. “They both have PTSD.”
“I do not have PTSD,” Dot insisted, “I’m fine. I’m just tired.”
Magnus glanced between the two women and the tense way they looked at each other. “Well, with all that you and Madzie went through with Valentine, it would make sense if-”
“What’s PTSD?” Madzie demanded, tugging on Magnus’ neck to get his attention.
“Well…” Magnus groaned as he set her down on the bed. She was getting heavy now that she was getting three square meals a day, thank goodness. “You know how, when you fall, you get a scrape on your hand?”
Madzie nodded, listening intently.
“Well PTSD is when you have a really, really bad time, when something really bad happens to you, and your feelings and your heart gets a bit of a scrape. You know what I mean? It’s a hurt in here,” he patted his chest, “it’s a bit harder, right, because you can’t put a band-aid on your heart, huh?”
“Valentine hurt me and Dot so now we’ve got pain inside?” Madzie tilted her head to the side, considering it. “Yes. You’re right.”
Magnus smiled reassuringly, even though all he wanted to do was cuddle her and blast Valentine to smithereens. “But it’s alright, because me and Cat are gonna be your bandaids.”
“You mean Mommy.” Madzie insisted, looking up at Cat and holding out her hand to her. “Catarina is Mommy now… Right?”
“Right,” Cat agreed, her voice thick as she squeezed Madzie’s hand. “I’m Mommy now.”
Madzie smiled up at Cat, before crawling up the bed to sit next to Dot. “You have a scrape on your heart too.” She kissed her fingers and pressed them to Dot’s chest. “Magnus and Mommy have to fix it. I’ll help too.”
Dot couldn’t say no to her. “Okay,” she whispered, her eyes shimmering with tears. “Okay, kid, you’re right.”
Magnus and Cat glanced at each other, relieved and reassured that Madzie and Dot were going to be okay.
Alec was only told about Inquisitor Herondale’s arrival ten minutes before her portal was due. He’d been stressed enough trying to make the Institute’s quarterly budget make sense, when Raj burst into his office and warned him that the Clave’s most uncompromising Inquisitor was headed to his Institute on ‘official business’. He just about had enough time to run back to his room and change into a dress shirt and tie, glad he wore slacks and not skinny jeans that morning. If he was a little out of breath when she came through the portal, she didn’t comment, and to Alec’s surprise, she shook his hand in greeting.
“Alexander. I trust everything is running smoothly here.” She said, her assessing eyes wandering around the ops centre.
“Yes, of course. Completely smoothly.” Alec assured her. “What brings you all the way to New York, Inquisitor?”
Inquisitor Herondale apparently finished her appraisal of the ops centre, looking Alec up and down swiftly. “I’m here to interrogate Valentine. It’s a shame that your team wasn’t able to extract the location of the mortal cup from him, but then he was trained, just like you and I, to stand up to questioning.”
“Your run of the mill interrogation protocols don’t work when it comes to Valentine,” Alec agreed, leading her to the elevator. “Have you given any more thought to the possibility of using the soul sword?”
“The risk of allowing Valentine access to the sword is too great. And besides, it’s still being examined by the Iron Sisters,” Herondale answered, “we need to verify that it wasn’t activated on accident.”
Alec glanced sideways at her when they stood in the elevator. “Still not convinced I’m not the chosen one?”
“I am perfectly convinced, Mr Lightwood, I’ve seen the footage. But your… Status is new to the majority of the Clave, particularly the Consul, so there are questions of your honesty. Though I have tried my best to persuade them of your virtue.”
“Oh.” That surprised Alec. He’d presumed that Inquisitor Herondale’s kindness to him had begun and ended with his appointment to Head of the Institute. “Thank you.”
“Stephen Junior is thriving because of you and Professor Fell,” the Inquisitor smiled, and Alec marvelled at it. He didn’t think she was capable of anything other than a severe glare. “I owe you his happiness.”
Alec shook his head. “No, it was all Ragnor, really.”
“Take the credit, Alec,” Herondale insisted, “you need friends in the Clave going forward. Between your… Situation, your relationship with the High Warlock, your sister’s relationship with Valentine’s daughter…”
“Alright, you have a point,” Alec huffed, shaking his head. “I appreciate your allyship.”
He showed her to the security detail stationed outside, and once he was sure that she had everything she needed, he excused himself. As he was heading back to his office, he ran into Luke, who was looking better than Alec had seen him look in weeks. He smiled and shook Luke’s hand firmly, clapping him on the shoulder.
“Got a minute?” He asked, and Alec nodded, leading him into his office.
“What can I do for you?”
Luke pulled out his cellphone, and placed it on Alec’s desk. “Last night I was called out to a mundane restaurant. We had forty-three mundanes dead, and… I’m sorry, Alec, but two shadowhunters were found dead at the scene, too.”
“Forty-five victims?!” Alec looked down at the pictures, confused. They were all slumped in their seats, as if they’d fallen asleep. “That’s no ordinary demon.”
“I’ve kept the crime scene for you, but the morgue is kicking my ass to move the bodies, so I’m gonna need a team from you in the next hour.” He explained.
“I’ll get Izzy.”
“My car’s outside, I’ll meet you there once I fetch Clary.” Luke answered, heading for the door. He gasped audibly, and Alec glanced up from where he was putting on his jacket to see his Mom standing in the doorway of his office with wide eyes. She and Luke were looking at each other like they were seeing a ghost.
“Hey, Mom,” Alec said pointedly, his eyebrow arching.
“Hi, sweetie,” Maryse replied, a little breathless when she stepped past Luke to give him a hug.
Luke had dashed out the door at the earliest possible opportunity, and Alec wondered what on Earth he was missing. Maryse seemed to have gotten over whatever shock she had seeing Luke by the time she pulled back, toying with Alec’s hair fondly.
“I’m sorry, I’d love to catch up, but there’s a crime scene I need to get to. We’ll have lunch, yeah? Catch up before the big test.”
“Of course, baby, go and do your job,” Maryse nodded, smoothing down her dress.
Raj ran up to Alec right as he and Izzy were reaching the front entrance of the Institute, catching Alec’s elbow. “Hey. I finished clearing out that demon nest last night. You have a new assignment for me?”
“Yes,” Alec answered, “I’m off to a suspected greater demon attack, I could use someone to canvas the area around the crime scene, check for any downworlders that might have seen through glamours. I’ll text you the address when I’m in the car.”
“Got it, I can do that. Any idea which greater demon we’re dealing with?” Raj asked, and Alec shrugged, walking backwards out the door that Izzy was holding for him. “Alright, man, see you later.”
“This is definitely a greater demon,” Izzy announced, tilting her head to examine one of the mundane victims more closely. “A regular demon couldn’t have hit this many targets at once with any kind of venom, and there’s no sign of outward trauma. My guess?” She straightened up, her eyebrows creased in the middle. “He broke their necks with kinetic magic or he fried their brain stems. Either way… He’s powerful.”
Alec didn’t like the sound of that.
“The only victim that even moved from their seat is this guy,” Luke pointed out, standing over said body, “one of the two shadowhunters.”
“He hadn’t even reached for his seraph blade, it’s sheathed,” Clary noted, crouching next to the body. “And I don’t recognise him.”
“Me neither,” Alec hummed, scratching his forehead. “He must be one of the shadowhunters who was meant to tell us about the Inquisitor’s visit. Usually Inquisitors send security agents ahead to scout that the Institute is appropriate for the Inquisitor to visit. I thought it was weird that she didn’t send anybody.”
“Turns out she did.” Luke said grimly. “So the greater demon may have been going for the Inquisitor?”
“Luke?” A mundane stepped over the body on the floor, almost trodding on Clary’s toe, and Luke glanced up, his face sheepish. “Who are you talking to?” She was about Izzy’s height, with curious eyes and an efficient brunette ponytail. Alec noted the badge on her belt, and assumed that she was a cop, like Luke. Thank God they’d thought to use glamours.
“Oh, just making voice notes,” Luke shrugged, waving his phone half-heartedly.
As Luke and the mundane discussed apps, Alec, Clary and Izzy focussed their attention on the shadowhunter victims.
“Look at this, there’s some kind of dust on his face.” Clary noticed, poking Izzy.
Izzy took a sample, holding up the grey dust between two gloved fingers to look at it more closely. “I’ll need to analyse this at the lab, I’ve never seen anything like this in a demon attack.”
“Can you take a sample for Magnus, too?” Alec asked, and Izzy nodded. “He loves his history, so hopefully he’ll know something about this guy’s mythology.”
Luke managed to get rid of the mundane, and sighed at the smirk Clary was shooting at him. “No way. First of all, she’s a mundane, second, she’s a lesbian, and third, she’s my partner. My pain-in-the-ass, nosy partner.”
“Alright, alright,” Clary chuckled, “I’m just saying, though, you should at least try to meet somebody. I hate seeing you lonely.”
“I think Luke already has his eye on somebody,” Alec commented casually, and Luke blushed. Alec grinned as he took the little baggie of dust that Izzy was holding out for him. “I knew it.”
“That was surprise, nothing more,” Luke insisted.
“What was?” Izzy asked, looking between Alec and Luke.
“Luke fancies Mom.”
“What?!” Clary and Izzy both shrieked at the same time.
“I do not fancy your Mom!”
“Are you calling her ugly?” Izzy demanded, pretending to be offended.
“No! Of course not!” Luke insisted, folding his arms, his shoulders by his ears.
“So you do like her?” Clary pressed, and Luke groaned, throwing his hands up in the air.
“I am done talking about this. Get outta here, I’ve had enough nosy kids up in my business for today.” Luke grumbled, and the three shadowhunters packed up, smirking and cajoling him all the way.
Almost the moment they’d cleared out, Maia marched onto the crime scene. She looked worried, which immediately put Luke on edge. It took a lot to phase Maia. Luke didn’t say a word, just put his hands on her shoulders and steered her to his car. The moment they were situated, him in the driving seat and her in the passenger seat, Maia turned to look at him.
“Russell’s gone. He took Emery and Tito with him too. They’re…” Maia swallowed hard. “They’re talking about changing those mundanes, starting a new pack.”
“Are they crazy?!”
Maia shrugged. “They said they didn’t like your exclusive attitude. Translates to ‘we want to be in a weird furry pack and you won’t let us have orgies in the Jade Wolf.’ They’re really serious about this, Luke. There was even a suggestion that they’d start hunting other mundanes, bulk up their numbers.”
Luke massaged his forehead with his fingers. “If they start turning mundanes, the Clave will be on our asses.”
“I tried telling them that, but they said Alec would understand.” Maia rolled her eyes. “Like Alec would be just fine with the local furry community turning into actual wolves. He’s nice enough, but we both know that if they start moving against mundanes-”
“Alec will be forced to prosecute them, or worse.” Luke nodded. He let out a long sigh. “Where are they?”
“A warehouse a few blocks up the docks from the Jade Wolf.”
Luke texted Ollie to let her know that he was happy to release the crime scene, and that he was headed home to go over his findings. “Alright,” he said, tossing his phone into the glove box. “Let’s go sort these furries out.”
The only downworlder that Raj had been able to find within three miles of the demon attack was a vampire from Raphael’s clan who had just been passing through on her way back to the Hotel DuMort, and she hadn’t seen anything happen at the restaurant. Raj had nothing to show for four hours’ work.
He was about to give up and go back to the Institute when his seraph blade started to glow. Glancing around the alley he was standing in, he felt a chill go up his spine, and slowly reached for his sword. He yanked it out right as a force grabbed his shoulder and swivelled him around, shoving him against the wall.
For a moment, Raj wondered if he was a warlock; he wore the same kind of sharp suit that a lot of warlocks preferred, but the utter lack of fear in the stranger’s face made Raj realise that this was no downworlder. It was the greater demon. No warlock would put their hands on a shadowhunter and look so unafraid of the consequences.
“Where is the mortal cup?” The demon demanded, and Raj swung his sword up with the intent to cut the damn thing’s arm off. The demon was faster than him, though, and burst into a flurry of black butterflies, reforming a few feet away. “Where is the mortal cup?!” It repeated, its eyes glinting black.
“Even if I knew I wouldn’t tell you.” Raj scoffed, planting his feet ready for an attack.
The demon narrowed its eyes. “Then you’re useless to me.” It lashed out with a burnt orange spell, and Raj tried to tumble out of its way, but the demon anticipated it, and the demonic magic caught him on the leg, tearing into the flesh of his calf. He cried out in pain, swinging his sword to keep the demon at bay as he backed up against the wall, trying to pull himself upright, but it felt like his left leg was on fire. Raj managed to cut through a second wave of magic, dissipating it with the angelic energy from his sword.
“You have more fight that those two shadowhunters I met last night, I’ll give you that. You’ve almost been fun to play with…” The demon murmured, flexing his fingers. “But enough of that, now.”
Raj started to choke, his eyes bulging, his hands coming up to claw at the invisible force crushing his windpipe. He sank back down the wall, hoping that Alec or Izzy would spring out of the darkness. He was seeing spots in his vision when a blurred figure leapt over the demon’s head with a glint of a blade, and then he passed out.
“I’d be able to concentrate a lot better if you’d quit staring at me like that,” Izzy murmured as she peered through her microscope, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up with the weight of Clary’s gaze.
“I can’t help it, you’re so beautiful.” Clary answered, and Izzy huffed. “It’s true!”
Izzy glanced sideways at her. “I know,” she said matter-of-factly, “but you’re still distracting me.”
“Sorry,” Clary didn’t sound sorry at all. “What are you thinking in that big sexy brain of yours?”
“It’s from one of the dimensions of hell. I’m not an expert on greater demons, but this one definitely escaped from one of the large ones. My guess? It’s one that was shackled for a long time. A lot of this dust has accumulated in the recesses of the demon’s magic; it hadn’t left its home in… Centuries.”
Clary grimaced. “So he’s a big bad, then? Like, a really big bad?”
Izzy nodded, pulling the tie out of her hair and letting it fall back around her shoulders. “Magnus will hopefully be able to tell us more, but yes, this is a very powerful greater demon.”
“What’s the difference between a greater demon and your regular ones we get normally? They just more powerful?” Clary asked as she took Izzy’s labcoat from her and went to hang it up.
“Well, greater demons are the original ones. They’re the fallen angels that created all the other demons. They have magic, evil angelic powers, names, personalities, history.” Izzy explained, holding out her hand for Clary to take as they headed up to give Alec Izzy’s report.
“So like Lucifer?”
“Yes, but this isn’t Lucifer, don’t worry.” Izzy assured her.
Clary nodded. “How do you know?”
“Because if Lucifer ever escaped his cage, we’d all be dead.” Izzy shrugged, “the shadowhunters would be killed by the angels and brought up to Heaven to help them defeat Lucifer. Or so the story goes.”
“Wow. Well… Let’s hope that Lucifer never escapes then.”
Izzy laughed. “He’s been stuck for five thousand years or more. I don’t think we have to worry too much about him, let’s just worry about the one we’ve got in our backyard.”
“Any idea which one we’re working with?” Alec asked, looking up from his paperwork as Izzy and Clary walked into the office. Inquisitor Herondale was sitting at his desk, looking self-important, and Alec was on the couch, leaning forward to look at where his work was spread out on the coffee table.
“No, not specifically,” Izzy admitted, “but we know that this demon is one that has been shackled in one of the deeper dimensions of hell for centuries.”
“Magnus will be able to identify them, I’m sure.” Alec got up, glancing at Inquisitor Herondale as she tutted.
“You cannot simply trust a warlock to feed you all your intelligence,” she insisted, lifting her chin. “Warlocks are close to greater demons, most of them are fathered by these beings. Perhaps you should consider that before-”
“Magnus would never work with a greater demon, I trust his word and his expertise. Could you identify this demon just by looking at some grey dust, Madame Inquisitor?” Alec asked patiently.
The Inquisitor narrowed her eyes. “I am simply reminding you that he does not work for you, Mr Lightwood.”
“No, he doesn’t, but getting this demon out of his city is just as much in his interests as it is in ours,” Alec replied. “This is my Institute. You said yourself that I have a handle on it and an efficient relationship with the local downworld. I get results. And you want results, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Inquisitor Herondale responded reluctantly. “Very well. Go and ask your warlock friend for advice.”
Alec nodded obligingly, and led Izzy and Clary from the office, closing the door behind them.
“Like you need permission,” Clary scoffed.
“The more I co-operate with her, the quicker she’ll clear out of here and let me run this place the way I know it works.” Alec muttered, “let’s just grab Mom and go, Magnus can do the blood tests while we’re there.”
Magnus wasn’t dreading Maryse’s visit as much as he thought he would. She’d texted him a few times since Alec’s surgery, never long enough to chat, really, but they’d exchanged practical messages. She’d asked his advice on cocktails, and he’d asked her what Alec’s favourite childhood birthday cake had been so he could recreate it for the 10th anniversary of Alec going on testosterone. Alec had loved it, even more so when he found out that his Mom had helped pick out the triple layered chocolate cake.
So the two of them had declared a truce. They weren’t exactly friendly, but Magnus didn’t think she hated him anymore, and he’d certainly gotten over his hatred of her.
Despite their progress, though, Maryse still looked uncomfortable when he opened the door to her, Alec and Izzy. Alec leaned in for a hello kiss, and Magnus willed himself not to blush at the feeling of Maryse watching them kiss. He hadn’t felt the disapproving glance of a mother for a very long time, and it still left him a little flustered. He tried not to examine what that meant.
“I’ve looked at the dust you dropped off,” Magnus told the three of them as he led them through to the apothecary, “and… Well, it’s not good news.”
“A greater demon is never good news,” Izzy sighed.
“Well, no, but… We’re dealing with Azazel. I’m afraid the news couldn’t be much worse.”
“The…” Alec rubbed his forehead. “The fallen angel. The one who taught humanity warfare.”
Magnus nodded. “And witchcraft, yes. His magic is amongst the most powerful in existence. It won’t be easy to catch or banish him.”
“Presumably he’s here to destroy the mortal instruments,” Maryse murmured, folding her arms, “or Valentine.”
“Probably both,” Magnus agreed.
Alec shrugged. “I’ll take that intel back to the Institute, see if any of our scholars have any ideas. In the meantime… We need to figure out who that prophecy was about.”
“I can’t see how it can be about me,” Maryse chuckled, “I don’t even know any downworlders aside from you, Magnus.”
“You know Luke…” Izzy muttered, which made Maryse’s eyebrow arch.
“We’ll soon find out!” Magnus said brightly. “Maryse, if you could roll up your sleeve. This is just like a mundane blood test.”
“Bold of you to think Mom’s ever had one of those,” Alec teased, and Maryse smiled, ducking her head.
“Actually, I’ve had my experiences with mundane medicine,” she admitted, rolling up her sleeve and offering her arm to Magnus, who conjured a needle and syringe.
Alec and Izzy exchanged a confused look, and Maryse shrugged, a little embarrassed.
“I had a pregnancy scare before your father and I met.”
“Mom!?” Izzy gasped, delighted. “You didn’t!”
Maryse sniffed, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “It was the eighties.”
“It was,” Magnus chuckled, shaking his head. “I remember them well.”
Alec should have probably been more weirded out by the fact that Magnus was partying at the same time as his Mom was, but he was mostly curious about what exactly his mother had been up to in her youth. Was that why she was always so hard on Izzy?
“There we go,” Magnus held the vial of Maryse’s blood between his forefinger and thumb, and with his other hand made a pinching motion, his eyes focussed on the scarlet liquid. His eyebrows scrunched in the middle, and he tried again, attempting to coax the angelic energy from the blood. “Well… It seems you aren’t the subject of the prophecy either, Maryse.”
“So it must be Izzy,” Alec pointed out.
“It can’t be me,” Izzy scoffed, “I’ve been cursing the angels for months. There’s no way.”
Magnus shrugged, conjuring another needle and syringe. “Can’t hurt to test you though, can it?”
“I guess not,” Izzy replied. She shrugged out of her jacket, leaving her in a sleeveless blouse, and held out her hand for Magnus to take. “Who else could it be, Mom, if it’s not…”
“There we are,” Magnus set aside the needle, holding up the vial of Izzy’s blood. As soon as his hand came up towards it, a thick, silver slither of magic tumbled out into Magnus’ hand, which made his mouth pop open into a little ‘o’.
“Iz, it’s you. I knew it!” Alec grinned, feeling more elated than ever. If the angels considered Izzy the eldest Lightwood woman, then they definitely considered him a man, and that was the best feeling in the world.
“It can’t be,” Izzy laughed, shaking her head. “This has to be a trick.”
“No trick,” Magnus promised, holding the silvery thread between his fingers. “Your angelic power is stronger than Clary’s, even. You were no doubt born with this gift.”
“That explains why the birth was so easy,” Maryse chuckled, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye and squeezing Izzy’s hand with her other. “I’m so proud of you.”
Izzy still had her eyes on the angelic energy in Magnus’ hand. “This makes no sense.”
“It makes perfect sense,” Alec insisted, “you were the one who immediately discounted yourself because you were too humble to think for a second that it could be you. Of course it was you that the angels blessed.”
“He is right, Isabelle,” Magnus agreed, letting the angelic energy go and watching in awe as it fluttered right back towards Izzy, sinking into her skin.
Izzy didn’t know what to say. “What does this mean?”
“Well…” Magnus scratched the back of his head. “Clary has the ability to draw new runes at will. There’s no telling what gifts you have. Presumably they’ll manifest in a life-threatening situation.”
“But she’s been in life-threatening situations plenty of times,” Maryse pointed out, “why didn’t her gift save her from Valentine?”
Magnus held up his hands. “I don’t have all the answers. For obvious reasons, I’m no expert on angel blood.”
“Maybe I’m just here for the soul sword,” Izzy suggested, “I’m guessing you’d need a lot of angelic power to charge it, maybe that’s why I had more energy in me than Clary.”
“I can’t say for sure,” Magnus answered, “but I have a feeling that the answer will become evident sooner rather than later.”
“Oh shit! Raj!” Alec hissed, pulling out his phone. “I sent him on a mission hours ago and he hasn’t called in!” He dialled Raj’s number and pressed his phone to his ear, walking out to the balcony in the hopes of a better signal. It rang and rang and rang, eventually going to Raj’s voicemail.
“You’ve reached Raj Palani, I’m probably either sleeping or making sweet, sweet love to my right hand. Leave a message.”
“Oh my God,” Alec scoffed, hanging up and stuffing his phone back into his pocket. “If the Inquisitor calls him…” He shook his head, making a mental note to kick Raj’s ass when he found him.
When he walked back into the apothecary, Izzy and Maryse seemed to be having a moment, talking quietly together in Spanish, so Alec gestured with his head for Magnus to follow him out of the room. Magnus seemed all too happy to get away, and Alec led him to the bedroom.
“Raj isn’t answering his phone, I haven’t heard from him in hours.”
“What was he doing before you lost contact?” Magnus asked.
Alec grimaced. “He was canvassing the area around Azazel’s attack for downworlder witnesses.”
Magnus was clearly questioning Alec’s decision to send Raj alone on that particular mission, but he had the good grace not to say anything. The guilt was already building in the pit of Alec’s gut. “Okay, let’s go and check it out.”
“You don’t have to come, we’ve already taken up one of your appointments today…”
“Alexander,” Magnus squeezed his shoulder. “I know how important Raj is to you. Besides, I don’t want you wandering around alone when Azazel is skulking around the city.”
Alec couldn’t argue with that. “Alright, let’s go.”
“Hey, Magnus?” Alec muttered as he scrutinised the walls of the alley, checking for signs of an angel blade.
Magnus hummed like a question, his magic glowing softly at his fingertips.
“So Clary and Izzy both have angel blood… Do you think that means they’re soulmates?” He asked, feeling a little childish for even entertaining the notion.
“It’s not clear whether or not soulmates are real, but… The chances are that their angel blood made them more attracted to each other.”
Alec nodded, examining a suspicious gouge in the brickwork. “So you don’t believe in soulmates?”
Magnus hesitated. “If soulmates exist… Well… It’s not a particularly pleasant thought for me.”
Magnus shrugged, reaching out with his magic to check for signs of Raj’s presence. “If I only have one soulmate, and that soulmate is mortal, then… I have to lose them one day.”
“I guess…” Alec wrinkled his nose, “but isn’t it better to have had some time with the love of your life, than to never have experienced them?”
“I suppose there’s an argument for that,” Magnus allowed, feeling a little warm in the face, “but I…” His voice lowered, “I hate endings.”
Alec looked over at him, and their eyes met for a moment before flicking away. He wasn’t sure what to say to that, but then he noticed the telltale glint of a stele poking out from underneath a garbage bag, and he snatched it up. “Raj’s stele.”
“His stele?” Magnus crossed the alley to stand next to him. His magic tingled, and he bent down, his heart sinking when he saw a small puddle of blood a few feet away from Raj’s stele. “Alexander…” With a quick flick of his magic, he confirmed that it was shadowhunter blood. “I think he was hurt.”
“But not dead,” Alec pointed out, “there’s no body, and Azazel wouldn’t bother to move the body, why would he?”
Magnus hummed in agreement. “Yes, he must have been kidnapped. I dread to think what Azazel wants with him. Does Raj have access to the soul sword?”
“No, none of us do.” Alec replied, running his hand through his hair. “Alright. Alright, I’m gonna head back to the Institute, see if I can get some people tracking Raj. If Azazel’s a fallen angel, he can use a stele, but Raj’s is here, so we should be good.”
“I’ll see if I can track down any warlocks who are descended from Azazel. Maybe they can tell us what he’d want with a shadowhunter.” Magnus offered.
“Thank you. I’ll see you when I get off work.” Alec gave Magnus a hug, smiling when Magnus kissed him on the cheek.
“I love you, be safe.” Magnus said softly, rubbing Alec’s back.
Alec hummed, squeezing Magnus tightly. “I love you too.”
“Why would Azazel take Raj?” Izzy asked, an hour later. Alec shrugged.
“He killed the two shadowhunters with access to the Inquisitor.” Alec pointed out, “I don’t know, maybe he knows that I was planning to make Raj the Head of Intelligence, somehow. I haven’t told anybody, though, not even Raj. I don’t know how he’d know that.”
“I’m not getting Head of Intelligence?” Izzy gasped jokingly.
Alec smirked. “You’re getting Weapons Master.”
“What am I getting?” Clary asked, her eyes lighting up.
Izzy snorted, smacking Alec’s arm.
“It’s nothing personal,” Alec assured the redhead, who was pretending to be offended, “but you’re not even technically a shadowhunter.”
“So who’s getting Head of Security?” Izzy wondered, “don’t tell me you’re going to give it to Lydia.”
“Fuck no!” Alec scoffed, the very thought of that making him shudder. Lydia had stuck around the New York Institute, but Alec had put her on missions that kept her far, far away from downworlders. “I was going to ask Aline Penhallow.”
Izzy’s whole face lit up in delight, and Clary’s eyebrow arched.
“She was Alec’s best friend at the academy, she’s amazing. She’s a lesbian, totally amazing at dual wield and two-handed fighting styles… She’s so, so good, Alec if we could get her it would be like the dream team! The gay dream team! Wait, is Raj gay?”
“I don’t know,” Alec said pointedly, “but he is missing. In the grasp of a greater demon. Remember?”
Clary laughed. “Izzy can’t help it, whenever a gay girl is mentioned, she just-”
“You’ll get it when you meet her,” Izzy insisted, but turned her attention to Alec. “You’re right. What’s the plan?”
“Well…” Clary clasped her hands together in her lap. “We have to assume he wants Valentine, right? Valentine killed a lot of demons, and he also knows where the mortal cup is. So…”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Alec agreed, “that’s gotta be what he’s after.”
“We can’t just hand over Valentine, though,” Izzy pointed out, “the downworlders would be in danger.”
“Remember when we first met Magnus, and we made that circle to hold the memory demon?”
“And I got outed, let go of Magnus’ hand and almost got killed?” Alec reminded her, scratching his forehead. “How could I forget?”
“Do you think it would be possible for him to do that with Azazel? Summon and hold him in a pentagram?” Clary asked.
Alec looked at her with disbelief. “You remember how much he struggled to hold that memory demon.”
“After you broke the circle. If you, Magnus and Izzy held the circle, I could use my sunlight rune to blast him back to hell.”
“That doesn’t get Raj back,” Izzy pointed out.
Clary glanced around to make sure no-one was within earshot. “We bring Valentine out of the cell, all Hannibal-Lecter-ed up on a wheel thingie, and promise Azazel that he can have Valentine if he gives us back Raj. And when he does, I come out with my rune and smoke him.”
“Hannibal Lecter? You want to put Valentine on… Wheels?” Alec repeated.
“And what, the Inquisitor’s just going to let us bring Valentine out to use in a dangerous deal with a greater demon?”
Clary frowned, shrugging one shoulder.
“I could hack the cameras in the cells, loop them for… I don’t know, fifteen minutes, max?”
“That would be enough.” Clary insisted, but Alec wasn’t convinced.
Izzy wrapped her arms around herself. “I don’t know how else we’re going to get Raj back, Alec.”
After a moment to consider it, Alec decided that she was probably right, and ran his hand down his face. “Alright. Okay. Let’s get to work.”
When Raj woke, his whole body felt numb. He didn’t open his eyes straight away, letting out a soft groan as the strange, empty-but-tingling feeling registered. When his eyes fluttered open, the first thing he saw was a cream-coloured ceiling, and lemon walls. He was not in the Institute. He tried to sit up, but a firm hand on his stomach stopped him.
“Be careful,” a soft voice murmured, “you’ve had quite the fight.”
Raj glanced at the man sitting on the edge of the bed, his eyebrows furrowing. “Who-?”
“I’m Sebastian Verlac,” he answered, taking his hand back. “You were injured in a fight with Azazel, a greater demon. I brought you back to my place to patch you up. You’re still weak, so don’t move too much.”
It was difficult to focus. Raj’s head was swimming, confused, but he could make out runes on Sebastian’s arms and neck. So he was a shadowhunter. “I’ve never seen you before.”
Sebastian smiled wryly. “No, you haven’t. I’m from the London Institute.”
Now that Raj thought about it, it was obvious that Sebastian was British from that adorable English accent. “Oh. Are we in London?”
“No,” Sebastian laughed, his fingers checking Raj’s temperature, brushing against his forehead. “I’m… Well, I’m AWOL. Don’t tell anybody.”
Raj blinked a few more times. “Kay.”
“You should sleep, darling, you’re still hurt.”
Raj couldn’t argue with that. “Mmmm… Kay.”
The next time Raj woke up, his body ached, and his head was clearer. He sat up a little, spotted Sebastian through the open doorway. His back was turned, and he was cooking something. Raj got himself situated, looking around the room. It was strange. It was… Mundane. Cosy, even. Clearly Sebastian had gotten accustomed to life away from the Institute.
“You’re awake!” Sebastian noticed when he turned around. “You want a drink?”
“Yeah, actually, “Raj croaked, rubbing his throat. “How long was I out?”
“A day, just about.” Sebastian answered. He fussed about making tea, and Raj took stock of his body.
His leg still hurt, though it was more of a throbbing ache than a burn now. The rest of his body just felt tired, like it had been through a meat grinder. “Why didn’t you draw an iratze on me?”
“Oh, erm…” Sebastian brought in a tray with a teapot and two cups, as well as super and a little jug of milk, “I don’t have a stele. And you didn’t have one on you, either.”
Raj frowned. “What kind of shadowhunter doesn’t have a stele?”
“I told you, I’m AWOL. I ran away from the Institute in London, I couldn’t be there anymore.”
“Why not?” Raj asked, rubbing his leg.
Sebastian kept his eyes on the tea he was pouring. “I developed a yin fen addiction. Being in London, around the shadowhunters and downworlders there, it was bad for me. So… I legged it. Found myself here, in New York. And then I saw you getting your arse handed to you by Azazel…”
“So, what? You fought him off? With no stele?” Raj huffed out a laugh, taking the cup that Sebastian handed him.
“Well, yes.” Sebastian admitted, a little shy. “I had my sword, thank goodness. I studied greater demons when I was young, they’re my speciality. So… I got lucky, I suppose.”
Raj gaped at him. “Did you kill it?”
“Heavens, no,” Sebastian chuckled, “I just sort of… Shooed him away.”
Raj chuckled. “You shooed a greater demon?”
Sebastian shrugged one shoulder, and Raj sighed, really taking the other man in. He was slim, with nice hands. Long, slender, clever fingers. He was blond, which wasn’t usually Raj’s thing, but maybe it was the knowledge that Sebastian scared off a greater demon with no stele. He seemed nervous, which was cute, considering he was the one who fought a greater demon and got away without a mark on him.
“What time is it? You look tired.” Raj observed, and Sebastian glanced at his watch.
“Oh, it’s later than I thought.”
“I think you need some sleep, too.”
Sebastian nodded, and got up, bringing his tea with him. “Are you comfortable?”
“Where are you going?” Raj asked, fluffing up the pillow next to him. “This is your bed, right?”
“Well, yes, but… You’re in it.” Sebastian pointed out, his cheeks a bit pink.
Raj bit his lip. “I’m way off base, huh? You’re…” He chuckled, running his hand in his hair. “You’re straight.”
“No!” Sebastian exclaimed, a little too quickly. “I’m… Well… I suppose I never really thought about it.”
“Well… This is a pretty big bed.” Raj pointed out, “plenty of room for both of us. If you wanted to figure it out.”
Sebastian smiled, his eyes lighting up. “Mind if I take off my shirt? It’s a little warm in here, isn’t it?”
“Please do.” Raj answered, which made Sebastian laugh, peeing his henley over his head.
Raj was used to seeing six-packs. It was basically the norm for shadowhunters, but he had to admit, Sebastian’s skinny, lean figure was… Nice, to say the least. He might have licked his lips.
Sebastian seemed to enjoy the attention, and climbed into bed next to Raj. “You sure you’re comfortable?”
“I’m very comfortable.” Raj answered, shuffling down so he was flat on his back. “You?”
“Very,” Sebastian assured him, turning over onto his side. “I… I never asked your name.”
“Rajesh Palani,” he answered, his voice soft.
Sebastian hummed. “Raj for short?”
“Cute name,” Sebastian told him tentatively, and Raj smiled.
It was surprisingly easy for Alec to convince Valentine to put on the mask and let Alec tie him to a step with wheels. Alec just had to promise to let Valentine talk to Clary for ten minutes once the Azazel business was dealt with. The harder part of the operation was getting Izzy unfettered access to the cameras. Alec had assumed that it would be easy with his Head of the Institute logins, but the Inquisitor had overriden them, much to Izzy’s chagrin. Eventually, though, Izzy managed to get past the new logins and looped the cameras, allowing Alec access to Valentine’s cell and enough time to get him out and, hopefully, get Raj back from Azazel.
“You got everything you need?” Alec asked Magnus as he wheeled Valentine out into the courtyard.
“Yes, I think so. We have to be quick convincing Azazel to return Raj, because I’ll only be able to hold him for ten minutes, tops.” Magnus told him.
Alec nodded, setting Valentine next to the pentagram Clary had drawn on the tarmac of the courtyard. Izzy jogged out to join them as Clary took her position behind a stone pillar. She’d burst out and blast Azazel once Raj was safe. “Ready?”
Izzy stood on one of the points of the pentagram, and held out her hand to Magnus, who took it and Alec’s hand. The moment Izzy and Alec joined hands, there was a low boom, and all three of them felt the thrum of a magical current running through their bodies. Magnus began the incantation, and it struck Alec how much Magnus must have been playing it up the first time they did this, all those months ago.
Back then, Magnus had been swaying his hips a little, teasing, purring out the incantations like he was seducing someone rather than summoning them. Now, he was all business, his voice powerful and authoritative as he spoke in a demonic tongue. Alec found him just as hot like this as he had in that first summoning. Perhaps even hotter.
He didn’t dwell on his libido, though, because as Azazel started to materialise in the pentagram, it suddenly became a lot harder to keep hold of Magnus and Izzy’s hands.The power difference between Azazel and the memory demon was obvious; Izzy’s nails were biting into Alec’s hand with the grip she had to keep on him.
“Magnus Bane,” Azazel drawled, his eyebrow quirking in surprise. “Wait until I tell your father that-”
“We want to offer you a deal!” Magnus interrupted, “Raj Palani for Valentine Morganstern.”
Azazel glanced around, his eyes settling on Valentine. “I don’t know a Raj, but if you’re willing to give up Valentine…”
“We know you have Raj! We found his blood in the alley!” Alec insisted.
“What use would I have for a shadowhunter? No, I left your Raj to die in that alley.” Azazel insisted.
It didn’t make sense, but they didn’t have time to argue.
“I can’t hold him much longer!” Magnus warned, and Clary marched out from her hiding place, drawing the rune into her hand. She thrust out her palm towards Azazel, but nothing happened. Alec craned his neck to look at her as she tried again, but again, the rune didn’t take.
Azazel smirked, turning to face Magnus. “You thought you could hold me?!” He threw out his arms, and what felt like a train hit Alec in the chest, sending him flying backwards along with Magnus and Izzy.
Izzy landed hard on the ground, but rather than drawing an iratze, something inside her flared, and her instincts led her to activate her anti-possession rune, instead. She shook her head to clear it, and as she looked up she heard Alec, Clary, Magnus and Valentine start to scream. It was difficult to force herself to her feet, dizzy from where she’d hit her head on the ground, but she pulled out her seraph blade and headed towards Azazel, who was leaning over Valentine.
As she raised her blade, Azazel turned and looked at her over his shoulder. He looked vaguely surprised, but as she swung her blade down, he evaporated into a swarm of black butterflies, which flew up into the nights sky. Alec, Clary and Magnus stopped screaming, sitting up slowly. Magnus, especially, looked pale.
“Are you okay?” She asked, crouching down next to him as Alec and Clary heaved Valentine back up to his feet.
Magnus was looking at his hands with something like horror on his face, and Izzy rubbed his shoulder.
“You’re okay, he’s gone. It wasn’t your fault, he was more powerful than we thought.” She assured him.
“It was my fault,” Clary insisted, “I have no idea why my rune didn’t work.”
Alec crossed over to Magnus’ side when he saw how freaked out his boyfriend looked, cupping his face. “Hey, look at me.”
Magnus cleared his throat, and straightened up. “I’m fine.”
Valentine was struggling against his bonds, his eyes wide and terrified. Clary smirked a little.
“Don’t like greater demons much, huh? Is that what monsters like you have nightmares about?” She spat.
“We should get him back down to the cells, the cameras will right themselves soon.” Izzy pointed out.
“You gonna be okay if I take Valentine back down?” Alec checked, his thumb brushing Magnus’ cheek.
Magnus cleared his throat. “Yes… I’ll be fine. I think I should go home. My… Magic is low.”
Alec nodded. “I don’t know if I’ll come over tonight, we still don’t know where Raj is.”
“Of course.” Magnus answered, walking off towards the exit without a backwards glance. Alec tilted his head to the side a little in confusion. Something looked off. Were his pants too tight, or something? Magnus wasn’t walking like he usually did.
“Hurry up, Alec,” Izzy urged, and Alec dismissed his worries about Magnus for a moment, turning his attention back to Valentine.
“Are you sure you two will be alright with him? I need to go and update the Inquisitor and cover our asses for the last half hour.” Alec muttered.
“Yeah, go,” Clary insisted, pulling out her seraph blade as Alec set Valentine in the middle of the cell. “I’ve got it covered.”
“We’ll keep the sword on him while he untie him,” Izzy assured her brother. Alec nodded, and headed upstairs, his mind reeling trying to think of an alibi for the three of them.
Clary’s face was full of simmering hatred, boring holes into Valentine as Izzy worked to untie him. “So what happened at Magnus’?” She asked. Izzy paused for a moment, having forgotten about the revelation in all the chaos.
“Oh, it turns out… The prophecy is about me.” Izzy shrugged, her fingers unbuckling the various straps across Valentine’s body. “Hold still,” she snapped at Valentine, who was struggling and groaning like he was dying. He had yet to calm down from Azazel’s attack, his eyes wide and terrified.
“I knew it,” Clary breathed, reaching out to run her hand down Izzy’s arm. “See? The angels recognise Alec as the man that he is, and you as the warrior princess you are.”
Izzy smiled a little despite herself. “We don’t know what exactly it all means, but…”
“Well I know you’re a warrior princess.” Clary insisted.
“You would think that,” Izzy giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she undid the mask covering Valentine’s face as he stepped shakily off the step he’d been on.
“Thank goodness,” Valentine panted, clutching Izzy’s shoulders the moment she pulled off the mask. Clary stepped forward, pointing her seraph blade at Valentine’s throat.
“Step away from her,” Clary snarled.
“No, no,” Valentine stepped back, his hands flying up above his head. “You don’t understand. I’m not Valentine! It’s me, Magnus!”
Clary and Izzy looked at each other, confusion clear on both their faces.
“Sure,” Clary drawled, tugging Izzy back towards the cell door, “and I’m Raphael Santiago.”
“No, no, Biscuit, please, you have to believe me. Azazel-” The cell door swung shut, and Valentine pressed himself against the glass, his mouth moving frantically, though the cell was soundproof, so neither Clary or Izzy could hear him.
“When’s he gonna give it up?” Izzy sighed, folding her arms. “Can’t he just accept that he lost?”