It had taken only weeks after he and Alec began their relationship for Magnus to realize he needed to come up with techniques to keep himself sane when Alec was on a mission.
His initial method of coping was brooding, worrying, pacing, checking his phone nearly a hundred times and, when he was feeling particularly terrified, standing out on his balcony straining his ears as though he would be able to hear Alec’s cries for help.
Needless to say, it was not sustainable.
Alec had promised him that he would keep him as informed as possible, which was both sweet and helpful. After that, though, it was up to Magnus to keep himself from tearing his hair out. He had outright rejected drinking himself silly. One, it took a lot of alcohol to get him truly drunk and two, if he was drunk and Alec needed him he would be of no use. After that had gotten thrown to the wayside and after Catarina had talked him out of transforming himself into a cat to, in her words, stalk Alec while on a mission he had settled on distraction in the form of company.
It was great on two fronts. Magnus loved throwing a good dinner party and he also loved spending time with friends. At his age, his rolodex was quite long. Reconnecting with old friends, keeping close with current ones… both were excellent outcomes.
Catarina, currently both a career woman and a mother, was his frequent companion. They set Madzie up in one of his guest bedrooms and ate too much dessert while they both bitched and gushed about the current turns their lives had taken.
When Cat was unavailable, Magnus invited old friends and new ones to distract him.
Tonight he was having a late evening with Simon and Luke. The timing worked rather perfectly for all of them. Simon might have been a daylighter but he was also a vampire who was quite comfortable with the wee hours of the evening and Luke had just gotten off his shift. A late dinner with some good conversation and drinks afterwards was just what Magnus needed while he waited for Alec to come home.
The new strategy worked rather well, if he did say so himself. He was less tense and his lack of panicked hovering when Alec got home meant his boyfriend was less stressed as well. It was a win-win all around. Even Alec thought so, which was why he didn’t mind so much when he had to actually interact with guests occasionally.
Not that Magnus had any illusions that Alec would be pleased to see Simon when he got home. If Magnus had warned him that Simon was one of his dinner guests Alec might have even decided that he wanted to sleep over the Institute instead of the loft, which was absolutely why Magnus hadn’t mentioned it.
Perhaps not, though. Alec generally preferred to stay with Magnus, his own preference as well, and they were probably getting to the point that Alec didn’t strongly dislike Simon so much as he was exasperated by him. The good might outweigh the bad by now.
Although, if Alec could hear about Simon’s plans for a ‘Shadowhunter Movie Education Night’ he might have begged to differ.
“Listen, I’m just saying that when they can understand my movie references, they’ll think I’m at least eighty percent funnier.” Simon argued.
Luke laughed, “I’m not against a movie night, Simon, but I think you’re overestimating how much context can make Jace or Alec think you’re funny. Isabelle maybe but eighty percent is pushing it.”
Magnus laughed at Simon’s outraged expression. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, my friend, but I’ve shown Alec Sleeping Beauty. He definitely understood that joke you made about the warlock at Pandemonium last week dressing like a slutty Maleficent. He did not laugh.”
The vampire looked put out by that for about thirty seconds before the implications of Magnus’ sentence caught up with him, “Wait, you’ve gotten Alec ‘Sourpuss’ Lightwood to watch a Disney movie?” Simon asked incredulously. “And it was a princess movie?”
Luke laughed but knocked his hand against Simon’s shoulder from the other end of their shared couch. “He’s not that bad, Simon.”
“Oh please Luke!” Simon shot back, “No offense Magnus but when I think of Alec I do not think of a guy who would enjoy dancing woodland creatures.”
Magnus couldn’t entirely blame him, outwardly Alec didn’t seem like he would be a fan of Disney movies. “They’re fun and sweet and uncomplicated. Good for a night relaxing after he’s spent a particularly frustrating day at the Institute. I’m not saying he’s loved every Disney movie I’ve shown him but he hasn’t disliked any either.”
At the same moment, Luke and Simon erupted into questions.
Luke’s was predictable, “Are you sure he wasn’t just saying that to make you happy?”
Simon’s was shrill, “He’s seen multiple Disney movies? How have you never told me this? Which ones? Tell me everything.”
Magnus laughed again, “One, Luke, I can definitely tell when he’s lying to humor me and when he genuinely enjoys something. And two, Simon, he’s seen Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone, Lion King, Mulan and Beauty and the Beast so far. You will be unsurprised to know that he liked Mulan best.”
“Okay, fine, that’s fair.” Simon nodded, “I mean, if you had asked me which Disney Princess I thought he might like best it would have probably been Mulan. Although does Mulan really count as a…”
Luke and Magnus were spared Simon’s rambling about princess qualifications by the sound of the door opening.
A rush of relief went down Magnus’ entire body. Even if Alec came through the door hurt, as he occasionally did, Magnus was close by to help him. That he had gotten home meant the worst was behind and Alec was safe.
He stood and was halfway across the room before Alec had even gotten the door closed behind him. Near as he could see, there were no gaping wounds on his body. Alec hung his bow up on the pegs that Magnus had installed for him and waved tiredly when he heard Simon and Luke call over.
The second Magnus was in front of him, Alec leaned in for a kiss and Magnus obliged him happily. “Hello, darling. Happy hunting?”
Alec quirked a smile at him, “Seven demons dead. No major injuries. That’s as happy as it gets.”
Magnus brought his hands to Alec’s shoulders and ran a critical eye down him, “No minor injuries either, I hope?”
“Few scrapes and bruises. Jace already drew an iratze.” Alec reported. He dragged a hand down his face and Magnus got to see one of the scrapes he had mentioned, right over his knuckles. It didn’t look bad at all. He managed to restrain himself from asking to heal it. Alec had strong feelings about what healing Magnus should waste his magic on and a scrape that would be gone soon enough didn’t qualify. If they were alone he might have been willing to have the argument but alas, they were not.
Alec yawned, “I’m just tired.”
“Why don’t you take a quick shower and get in bed?” Magnus suggested softly.
Alec’s eyes darted over to where Luke and Simon were talking on the couch. “Should I…?”
Magnus cut off his question with another soft kiss. It was sweet when Alec worried about being good to Magnus’ guests, especially considering Magnus knew he would usually rather retreat. Luke and Simon weren’t old friends who needed introductions to the new man in his life, though, and neither would be offended if Alec waved goodnight instead of coming to talk to them. They both knew firsthand how tiring battle could be. Magnus pulled back from the kiss, “Not at all, Alexander. Go to bed. I’ll join you in a little while.”
The grateful smile Alec gave him was highlighted by the dark circles under his eyes and the droop of his shoulders. Magnus kept smiling at him because to do anything else would send his poor boy into a panic of second guessing, but Magnus couldn’t help but inwardly frown. He hated that Alec let himself get so rundown. Why were Shadowhunters so allergic to self-care?
At least he was going to bed now without fuss instead of trying to sneak in some more paperwork to finish. Alec waved again at Simon and Luke and went straight for their bedroom.
Magnus turned back to Luke and Simon and saw the werewolf looking at Alec in concern. “He okay?” Luke asked.
Magnus sank back into his seat with a sigh, “He’s tired. I told him he should just go to bed instead of joining us. I’m sorry to deprive you of your chance to question him about his feelings regarding Tale as Old as Time, Simon.”
“It’s okay.” Simon laughed, “I’ll definitely corner him another time. So tell me this, if he’s down with fairy tale movies so far, how do you think the Princess Bride would translate?”
And the conversation took off again.
He can’t hear you if you mumble.
“Shh, Jace.” Alec said to his annoying parabatai. He shivered on the bed and wished he hadn’t taken his shoes off. Magnus would be mad, though, if he put his gross boots on the bed. It would get the blankets all dirty.
If you’re cold, getting under the covers will help.
Alec’s eyes blinked open hazily. Where was Jace? Magnus’ room swam around in front of him in lazy swirls that made Alec go a little cross eyed as he tried to follow them. His jacket was down on the ground where it had slipped off the back of the chair and Alec regretted taking that off too. Why was it so cold? Where were Jace and Magnus? He had been talking to them just a second ago.
“Magnus?” He asked again, quietly in case the warlock was asleep. That wouldn’t work though, not if Magnus was going to make the room stop moving and warm up. Alec had to wake him.
He uncurled his legs and tried to work up the energy to roll onto his back to see Magnus. It was strange, they usually slept pressed together. Unless Magnus wanted to be the little spoon tonight? Was he mad because Alec hadn’t known? Maybe that was why the room was cold but he didn’t really think Magnus would do that to him.
He shivered again and groaned. What wouldn’t Magnus do to him?
Alec rolled onto his back before hissing and rolling back to his side so hard he fell out of bed and onto his knees. That hurt. He twisted his arm around, trying to feel the spot that lanced fire up his back. His fingers caught in something tacky and he pulled his hand back to find dark blood smeared over his skin. “Oh,” He said quietly.
If dirt from his boots on the blankets would make Magnus mad, blood on them would be just as bad. Worse, maybe, because Magnus didn’t like blood. He pulled his head up and looked across the bed, but Magnus wasn’t there. The covers weren’t even slept in, which was weird because Alec had just been asleep.
Then he remembered, Magnus was with Luke. And Simon. And Jace. No, maybe not Jace. Or was it not Simon? Definitely Luke, though. He was going to come to bed sometime but Alec couldn’t remember when. When had he gotten into bed?
After the demon hunt, probably. He didn’t usually do those in Magnus’ loft. Only sometimes.
Alec started to stand before he flopped down half on his side. His stomach roiled in protest and Alec swallowed heavily. That wasn’t helping at all. If Magnus was somewhere else then he needed to get up not lay back down. Although that sounded nice. He was even closer to his jacket.
He sighed and tried again. This time, he got up and swayed there for a minute. It was colder higher up. Was it always so cold when he stood? He wasn’t that tall, no matter what Magnus said.
And now that he had remembered he had a stomach, it felt angry with him. Had he swallowed dirt? Definitely not blood, he’d remember that.
He walked to the door and pushed it open with a grunt. It was heavier than he remembered. Once it was out of the way, though, he could hear people talking and Magnus laughing. It made him grin too because Magnus happy was the best sound in the world.
He wanted to stand there and listen to it all night but his stomach gave another angry lurch. He stumbled forward, one hand pressed against it to keep it quiet.
Magnus laughed as he waved away the remnants of their drinks and chocolate tarts. Simon and Luke were making noise about standing up and putting on jackets, which meant that they had probably another ten minutes before they were actually out the door. That was usually how goodbyes went after a successful dinner party, so Magnus wasn’t annoyed even if a larger and larger part of him was eager to go lay down next to Alec.
His Shadowhunter had left them not quite an hour and a half ago, so hopefully including shower time Alec would be an hour under and wouldn’t even stir when Magnus joined him in bed. He usually liked to curl up with him earlier, only letting the party continue a half hour or so without him, but conversation had turned to whining about the Seelie queen and that was always one of Magnus’ favorite conversations, so long as it was had within his wards and with trusted companions. So rarely did he get to indulge in it.
Luke was insisting that Maia did the best impressions of the Queen out of anyone. He’d had his phone in his hand for the last three minutes, like they were actually going to call Maia and demand a performance, “But seriously Magnus, next time you see her you absolutely need to get Maia to do you her impressi… whoa, Alec!”
Instantly, Magnus’ smile was gone. Luke looked genuinely freaked out and Simon’s eyes were widening with the same concern in them.
“Magnus?” Alec’s voice was a low mumble that sounded almost slurred. There was a shuffle of footsteps behind them before the sound of vomiting.
Magnus turned and stood in the same motion before freezing in shock. Alec was bent forward, losing his stomach on the floor and wearing the same clothes he had come home in. He was pale and the dark circles under his eyes looked more like bruises now. There was a sheen of sweat over his skin and a flush to his cheeks that indicated a rising fever.
“Oh my god,” Magnus whispered in horror. “Alec!”