“Good morning, angel.”
Alec hummed, turning over onto his side, his phone held up to his face. “Good morning yourself. I miss you.”
“You’ve been awake for all of two minutes,” Magnus chuckled, his lined eyes warm and fond.
“Missed you in my sleep,” Alec insisted, stretching out his legs and spine.
Magnus propped his phone against a jar on his desk, quirking an eyebrow at his clingy boyfriend. “I’ve spoiled you. Though I can’t say I hate you being all sleepy and needy.”
Alec grinned, rubbing his eyes. “You’d love it if you were here right now. Why are you working? You should be giving me your full attention.”
“Oh?” Magnus laughed, his eyes flicking from the potion he was working on to the phone screen where Alec was pouting. “The time difference means that it’s late at night for me, so I’m still working.”
“Wait, the time difference is 7 hours,” Alec mumbled, squinting at the clock that hung above the ensuite bathroom. “Magnus, it’s like 1am for you, go to sleep!”
Magnus shrugged, finishing off the potion with a flick of his wrist and picking his phone back up. “Maybe I miss you, too.”
Alec smiled, wanting nothing more than to give his boyfriend a hug. “I knew it. You’re just as clingy as I am.”
“If not clingier,” Magnus admitted, pushing himself up from his desk and keeping his phone held up to his face as he made his way through the loft. “You’ll be home later, though, right?”
“I’m leaving here at about 7ish, so about midday for you.” Alec told him, slowly sitting up in bed. “That is, if everything goes according to schedule, and you know Clary.”
Magnus snorted. “It’s her rune ceremony, Alexander, I’m sure she’ll be on her best behaviour.”
“I wish we could’ve just done it in the Institute at home,” Alec grumbled, throwing the sheets off himself, “then you, Maia, Luke and Simon could’ve come.”
“You had meetings to go to anyway,” Magnus reminded him, “you’re important now. Your Institute killed Valentine and Jonathan.”
Alec sighed. “I just want to run the Institute in peace. I hate all this pomp and circumstance, it means I get at least three old Clave cronies coming up to me swearing that they remember the eldest Lightwood being a girl.” He shuddered and rifled through his wardrobe with his free hand, the other still holding his phone. “Why can’t they just leave it, like…? Clearly I’m not a girl now, what do they have to gain from grilling me?”
“It’ll all be over soon,” Magnus soothed, “and then you’ll come home to me and a lovely, romantic candlelit meal.”
“You don’t have to do that, I’ve only been gone two days.” Alec smiled, his thumb rubbing over Magnus’ cheek where it appeared on his phone screen.
“Two days too long,” Magnus insisted, and Alec couldn’t find it in him to disagree.
Alec looked up at the clock as he pulled out his outfit for the day. “I should get dressed, I have a meeting in an hour.”
“Go ahead,” Magnus said lightly, and Alec looked back at his phone to see his boyfriend smirking. “I’m not stopping you.”
“Magnus,” Alec hissed, feeling the back of his neck heat up. “I’m in Alicante!”
“My Mom is like two doors down!”
Magnus quirked an eyebrow at his boyfriend. “Does she possess the ability to see through walls?”
“Well, no, but…” Alec squirmed. “I can’t get all sexy right before I go see the Clave, it’s all I’ll be able to think about all day.”
“You’re so cute,” Magnus smiled, shaking his head a little. “I guess I should go and get some sleep anyway.”
Alec nodded, still feeling a little hot from the intent in Magnus’ voice. “Yeah… Promise I won’t hesitate to take off my clothes when I see you later on.”
Magnus laughed, his eyes hooded. “I’ll hold you to that.” He blew the camera a kiss. “Love you, angel.”
“Love you too,” Alec answered as easily as breathing, grinning when both of them hesitated to hang up for a moment. “Bye.”
He put his phone aside once Magnus’ face had gone from the screen, and turned his attention to getting ready for his last day in Alicante. Clary’s rune ceremony was this afternoon, the biggest reason why any of them were in Alicante in the first place. He wondered if he’d finally get some answers from her and Izzy today, after a month of avoiding him under the guise of organising this and that and debriefs and diplomatic missions. Today, he told himself, he’d figure out what the hell had happened that night at the lake.
“Hey scrap, can you zip me up?” Izzy asked as Clary emerged from the bathroom, turning to show her girlfriend her bare back.
Clary pressed a kiss to Izzy’s shoulder as she pulled the zip up to the top. “You look beautiful.”
Izzy smiled, tilting her head to the side a little, giving Clary more room to lay kisses on her skin. “So do you. Perfect, and powerful.”
“Oh yeah? Do you reckon I’m gonna strike fear into the hearts of all the Clave douches there today?”
“You already have,” Izzy laughed, pulling Clary’s arms around her waist. “You scare the shit out of them.”
“Then why did they invite me all the way here for my rune ceremony?” Clary asked, “didn’t Max just have his at the Institute?”
“Whether they like it or not, you are a hero. They have to honour you, you killed Valentine.”
“And saved the loves of my life,” Clary smiled.
Izzy sighed, turning her face to kiss Clary’s cheek. “You can’t tell anyone about that part, we talked about this.”
“Well duh, I’m not going to go around telling the Inquisitor.” Clary shrugged, hooking her chin over Izzy’s shoulder. “But we have to tell Alec, he’s getting frantic.”
“It’s too dangerous to tell him, it’s going to put him in a difficult position with the Clave.”
“He’s your parabatai, Iz, you know he’ll do whatever he has to to keep you safe.”
Izzy turned in Clary’s arms, moving strands of red hair behind Clary’s ears. “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
“We can’t keep lying to him forever,” Clary countered, and Izzy shook her head.
“We won’t. We’ll tell him soon. Just not yet.”
Clary looked at Izzy with a small frown, but shrugged one shoulder. “If that’s what you want. And Maia too?”
“And Maia too,” Izzy promised, “soon.”
“When’s it starting?” Maia asked, carrying a bowl of popcorn into the living room. Luke was still hooking up Magnus’ phone to the TV, fiddling with input options, and Magnus was watching him with curiosity.
“In about fifteen minutes,” Luke answered, “don’t worry, we have time. See, got it.” He gave himself a mental pat on the back, setting Magnus’ phone on the TV stand next to the TV and sitting back on the couch to look at the blown-up image of Alec and Magnus cuddled together in bed that was Magnus’ current lockscreen.
Maia sat down next to him, making herself comfortable before Magnus took his place on the couch, too. “I feel like we’re here to watch a royal wedding or something.”
“The rune ceremony is a more important rite of passage than a wedding to shadowhunters,” Luke told her, taking a handful of popcorn from the bowl she was holding.
“Mmmm,” Magnus agreed, conjuring a couple of large bottles of soda and pouring them into the glasses that Luke had set out. “Think about it. It’s where they go from being gifted mundanes to fully fledged shadowhunters. Of course there’s the religious aspect, but it’s also a sort of coming of age, and a recognition of the shadowhunter’s talent and hard work.”
“And a promise to the Clave,” Luke added grimly, “though I don’t think that’s much of a priority for Clary.”
Maia was staring at the picture of Alec and Magnus on the TV screen. “I still can’t believe they didn’t let us go in person.”
“Downworlders aren’t allowed in Alicante, it’s holy ground for shadowhunters,” Luke sighed, “I wish they’d let her have it at the Institute.”
“I don’t know, I’d much rather be sitting here on this couch with snacks than standing for hours on end listening to the Consul drone on and on amongst a bunch of snobby shadowhunters,” Magnus shrugged, “Alec tried to convince the Clave to let him have it in New York, but Clary is something of a celebrity now, having killed Valentine, and they want to show her off.”
As if on cue, Magnus’ phone started to vibrate, and he flicked his wrist to answer Alec’s facetime call. A close-up of Alec’s face filled the screen, and Magnus smiled like he hadn’t seen Alec just a few hours ago.
“Hey, are you there? I can just see the ceiling.” He asked, squinting his eyes.
“We’re here,” Magnus assured him, levitating his phone with his magic so that Alec could see the three of them piled on the couch. “How’s it looking over there?”
“Good, yeah,” Alec answered, “let me just… Turn the camera…” After a moment, Alec’s face disappeared from the TV screen and was replaced by a view of a beautiful marble temple, draped in deep blue banners with golden runes embroidered onto them. The largest by far was the one that all four downworlders recognised as the angelic rune, the one etched into Izzy’s chest and Alec’s forearm. “Can you see okay?”
“Wow,” Maia leaned forward a little, her eyes focussed on the scenery that stretched out beyond the marble hall Alec was standing in, “Alicante is beautiful.”
“Yeah,” Alec said, “though I wish you were all here. Oh, I think it’s starting, the Consul’s here. Enjoy the show!”
The three downworlders watched as an Asian woman walked up the aisle and took her place underneath the largest banner, next to a Silent Brother who’d been standing there before Alec came in. “Jia Penhallow,” Luke supplied, “Aline’s Mom.”
“Really? I don’t see much resemblance,” Maia shrugged.
“Probably because Aline is always smiling, and Jia looks permanently pissed,” Magnus smirked, sipping his soda. “She’s a perfect fit for Consul, really.”
Luke snorted. “You got that right.”
“You’re lucky I have my volume turned right down,” Alec hissed into the mic, and Magnus chuckled.
“Hey, where’s Simon? Did you invite him?” Luke asked Magnus, who nodded.
“Yes, I called but he didn’t pick up, so I sent him a text instead. He told me he’d be here, but… I guess something came up.”
“It’s not like Simon to miss something like this,” Maia frowned, “you think he’s okay?”
“I’ll check in on him later,” Luke promised. “Look, look, there’s Clary.”
Clary was walking past Alec from behind, heading up through the assembled shadowhunters to join the Consul. “I stand before my fellow shadowhunters,” she began, and Luke leaned forward, mouthing the words along with her, “to receive the rune of the angel. I take this mark to honour him. To bring his light into me. To join the ranks of the shadowhunters, the guardians of peace.”
Maia and Magnus both scoffed at that part, shooting each other a smile of solidarity.
“Where’s she gonna have it?” Maia asked, squinting at the TV. It was difficult to see what exactly was going on.
Clary offered her hand to the Silent Brother, and he put a stele to the back of her forearm.
“Wait…” Maia mumbled, “does this mean Izzy offered her chest to some creepy Silent Brother at her rune ceremony?”
“God, I love that woman,” Magnus chuckled, shaking his head. He could just imagine Izzy doing that, just to make the Silent Brother squirm.
“My little girl’s all grown up,” Luke said quietly, his eyes a little wet. Magnus patted him on the shoulder gently.
“This rune of angelic power,” Consul Penhallow announced, “is well-deserved and long overdue. You are no longer a shadowhunter in training. You, Clarissa Fairchild, have defeated our greatest enemy, and prevented Raziel’s wish from being used. May your heroism be a shining example to shadowhunters across the world. Congratulations.”
“Wow, she really is a big deal,” Maia commented as the shadowhunters began to clap, “I’m kinda surprised at just how happy the Clave is to see Valentine dead.”
Magnus hummed in agreement. “For now, we are at peace. That’s all that matters.”
Alec turned the camera back around so that the three of them could see his face. “That’s it for the ceremony, I’m guessing you don’t wanna stick around and watch the Council stand up and do their speeches?”
Magnus and Maia looked to Luke, who shrugged.
“I guess not. Tell Clary that we’re all very proud.”
“And that she looks really hot,” Maia added, and Alec rolled his eyes slightly.
“I am not saying that out loud.”
The first person to hug her once the ceremony was over was, surprisingly, Maryse Lightwood. She must have made a beeline for Clary, because she’d even beaten Izzy and Alec to it. “Congratulations, honey.”
“Thanks…” Clary replied, tentatively patting Maryse’s back. When the two women parted, Maryse beamed at her, taking her hands and squeezing them.
“What you did, stopping Valentine, saving Izzy… I don’t know that I can ever thank you enough.”
“Oh,” Clary felt her cheeks burning, “I just did what anybody would’ve done…”
“You saved my little girl’s life,” Maryse sighed, pulling Clary into another hug. “I am so sorry for how I treated you in the past. I can see now, Izzy is lucky to have someone who loves her as much as you do.”
“Mom,” Izzy said softly, touched.
Maryse sniffed as she pulled back, giving Clary another warm smile. “I’ll leave you three kids to mingle. I should go and greet the Council.”
“It was very impressive,” Alec nodded, “standing up to Valentine all by yourself. And magically making Izzy come back from the-”
“Alec, not now,” Izzy hissed.
“My parabatai rune disappeared.” Alec whispered, his eyes steely where they bore into Izzy’s. “You and I both know what happened at that lake.”
“I was impaled,” Izzy insisted, “but the healing rune kicked in right before the moment of death. I told you.”
Alec’s eyes narrowed.
“Can we talk about this when we get back to New York?” Clary asked, not quite meeting Alec’s eyes when he turned his gaze to her.
Alec straightened up, his hands held together behind his back. “All that matters is that Izzy is safe. But yes,” he insisted, “we will talk about this when we get back to New York.”
“Alec,” Aline appeared at his elbow, “my Mom wants to talk to you.”
Izzy and Clary glanced at each other with relief, which irritated Alec even more. He hated being kept out of the loop, and he hated that Izzy wasn’t being honest with him. They told each other everything; at least, they used to.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, “alright, let’s go.”
“That looked intense,” Aline observed as the two of them walked towards the Consul.
“Mmmm, just sibling stuff. No big deal.” Alec assured her.
“Alexander Lightwood,” Consul Penhallow held out her hand for Alec to shake, “I’m sorry that we haven’t seen each other in the past few days. As you can imagine, the switchover from a state of emergency to a state of peace so suddenly has left me quite busy.”
“Of course, Consul,” Alec smiled his best diplomatic smile, “we managed to get through all the necessary paperwork and investigations no problem.”
“I’m sure,” Consul Penhallow said, glancing at her daughter. “Aline, could you give us a moment?”
Aline nodded, giving Alec an encouraging wink before darting off to mingle.
“How is she getting on at your Institute?” The Consul asked, and Alec hummed.
“Very well. She arrived in the middle of a crisis and adapted very effectively. She was amazing.”
“Glad to hear it,” Consul Penhallow answered, “it seems that your leadership during the height of the Valentine crisis was something to be celebrated, given your limited experience.”
Alec inclined his head politely. “Thank you, Consul.”
“Your father has mentioned several times over the years, your ambition to sit on the Council. I would say that you’re ready for that, wouldn’t you?”
That was unexpected, and Alec’s eyebrows rose up his forehead. “The Council?”
“Yes, Mr Lightwood,” the Consul replied, her face a little scrunched, like she was confused. “The Council. I think you’d be a fine addition, since Miss Blackthorn lost her seat. We could use someone who works closely with downworlders.”
“I see,” Alec nodded, “well… I’ll need a few days to think about it.” Of course it was out of the question, he’d be too far away from Magnus, not to mention the fact that they were clearly trying to tokenise him as a downworlder ally. But he couldn’t just outright say no, could he?
It was obvious that Consul Penhallow hadn’t been expecting that response. She raised her chin. “Offers like these don’t come along every day, Mr Lightwood.”
“I know that, Consul Penhallow. But I care about my Institute, and I worked hard to get it. My parabatai and…” He cleared his throat a little, “boyfriend both live in New York, so I must consider your offer carefully.”
“Mr Lightwood,” the Consul put her hand on his arm. “I trust I don’t have to tell you that a shadowhunter’s main duty is to the angel. Your career will halt in its tracks if you allow personal relationships to come between you and your service to Raziel.”
Alec nodded, dropping his eyes. “I understand that, Consul. But with all due respect, I am only twenty-six. There is plenty of time for me to chase promotions. As you said, I have limited experience. I think it would be prudent to spend some more time on the front lines before attempting to understand how things work here in Alicante.”
“I suppose that’s logical,” Consul Penhallow allowed, “let me know by the end of the week whether or not you intend to take this very generous opportunity.”
“I will, Consul. Thank you for your consideration.” Alec gave a respectful nod, before taking his leave. He’d wait a couple of days and then send her a fire message. There was no way he was leaving New York.
There was no way he was leaving Magnus.
Magnus was clearing up the empty popcorn bowls and glasses when he noticed a fire message materialising in the air just in his periphery, and snatched it up into his hand. He wasn’t expecting any business today; he’d taken the day off to greet Alec when he came home. Assuming it was some kind of emergency, Magnus wasted no time in reading it.
Dear Mr Bane,
As a result of your decision to support the Seelie Queen during the Valentine crisis, which led to Valentine raising the angel and almost wiping out the downworld as we know it, the warlocks of New York have had a vote of no confidence in your leadership. As of today, Mr Lorenzo Rey has been democratically appointed to take up the position of High Warlock of Brooklyn.
The Warlock Council of North America thanks you for your many years of service, and requests your presence at Mr Rey’s mansion a week from today, so you may offer your congratulations to our new leader in New York.
Magnus couldn’t comprehend it at first. He stared at it for several seconds, not blinking, and eventually his eyebrows furrowed. He was no longer the High Warlock of Brooklyn. The paper that the message was written on turned into a glass of scotch, and Magnus started to raise it to his lips.
He forced himself to pause and think. He saw the colour of Alec’s eyes in the dawn sunshine when he looked into the glass, and put it down. Instead, he crossed the room to where his phone was still plugged into the television and brought it back to the couch. His fingers typed in ‘alcoholics anonymous meetings Brooklyn NYC’ and he sat back as he began to scroll through the different support groups, trying to figure out which one was the closest.
Right as he was about to make a note of one, his phone buzzed in his hand, and he saw Catarina’s name flash up on the screen. He put it to his ear and waited for her to say something.
“I’m sorry, Magnus. I didn’t say anything because I was sure that the warlocks would vote in confidence of you. I didn’t want to worry you.” She said, her voice steeped in sympathy.
“It’s, erm…” Magnus cleared his throat. “It’s quite alright. I made a bad call. There are consequences.”
“It’s not alright,” Cat insisted, “I’m coming over.”
“No, no, really,” Magnus shook his head, squeezing his eyes shut. “I’m about to head out to a meeting, anyway.”
“Yes,” Magnus answered, checking his watch. “There’s one starting in half an hour.”
“You want me to come with you? I can come if you need me to,” she tried.
“No, no,” Magnus felt his throat closing, and cleared it again. “I’ll be fine. It’s just a shock. I just need a moment to…”
“Okay,” Cat murmured, “but promise me you’ll call me if you start spiralling, okay? Or Alec, or Ragnor. Promise me you won’t isolate yourself.”
Magnus stood up, distracting himself with wondering which coat he should wear. “I promise, Catarina. I… I have to go.”
He didn’t wait for her response before hanging up and rushing to his closet to put on his nice deep purple peacoat. On his way to the front door, he banished all the alcohol in the loft, and squared his shoulders. Lorenzo Rey would not send him running back to drinking with his tail between his legs.
“I knew you’d show up here eventually!” Ollie grinned, getting to her feet as Luke and Maia came through the door of the Jade Wolf.
Luke sighed at the sight of Ollie. He’d been ignoring her calls ever since she cornered him after the victory party at the Jade Wolf and accused him (rightly) of being a werewolf. At the time he’d been drunk enough to get away with just laughing and promising to call in the morning, but now he was stone cold sober and had nowhere to run.
“What’s up, Ollie? You know it’s my day off.” Luke pointed out.
“I know you filed for a new partner,” Ollie told him, eyeing Maia as she walked past to head into the kitchen. “You can’t get away from me that easy, not when I know the truth!”
“The truth about what?” Luke asked, putting his hands on his hips.
Ollie stepped a little closer, glancing around at the werewolves hanging out around them. “That you and your buddies here are a pack of werewolves, and that you’re the alpha.”
“Werewolves?” Luke snorted, “what, as in, howling at the full moon werewolves?”
“Don’t be cute,” Ollie pressed, following him as he started walking towards the kitchen, “I have a video of you welcoming new wolves into the New York Pack.”
“It’s a motorcycle club, Ollie, we’re not actual werewolves.”
“Then why are there no motorcycles outside?” She countered, rushing around him to block his path. “I know werewolves exist, I’ve known for a long time.”
“Oh really?” Luke asked skeptically.
“Yes, actually. I was attacked by one as a rookie cop.”
That brought Luke up short. “What are you talking about?”
Ollie licked her lips, glancing around once more. “One night I was on patrol down in the meatpacking district, and I started to hear this growl. It was deeper than a dog’s, it sounded more like a tiger from the zoo. And I was shining my flashlight around and the next thing I knew, this huge wolf was on top of me, snarling in my face. Then my partner came around the corner and it scarpered. He said it was just a big dog, but no dog is that big. It was a wolf. A werewolf.”
“So, what, you chain yourself up every full moon?” Luke asked drily.
“I didn’t get the virus, or whatever it is,” Ollie gritted out, “the claws didn’t go deep enough. But I know what I saw.”
“Look,” Luke put his hand on her shoulder. “I know how stressful this job can be. Maybe you need some personal time.”
Ollie narrowed her eyes at him. “You son of a bitch.”
“I’m just looking out for you, Ollie.” He insisted, and pushed forwards into the kitchen, leaving Ollie fuming behind him.
Catarina was so ready to go home. Between her anxiety about Magnus, the massive 6pm rush of women in labour, and the news that one of her young patients had a terminal condition, she was counting down the minutes until she could go home to Madzie and Dot. It was Friday, which made it craft night, Madzie’s favourite day of the week. Cat ached to be at home with her, watching her make a mess with old newspapers and PVA glue.
The moment the second hand passed the 12 and it chimed 9 o’clock, Catarina made a beeline for the nurses’ station and grabbed her purse.
“Tim,” she put out her hand to stop one of the other nurses, “could you go and check on the woman standing in the nursery viewing room? She’s been there for quite a while, and I don’t recognise her.”
“In a rush to get home for craft night, huh?” Tim guessed with a smile, and Cat laughed wryly.
“You know it.”
“No problem, Cat, I’ll go and see what she needs now.” He assured her, “see you tomorrow.”
“You’re a lifesaver. See you tomorrow.” Cat answered, slinging her purse over her shoulder and heading for the door. As soon as she was around the corner from the hospital, she ducked into an alley and cast a portal right to her living room. When she stepped through she almost tripped over Madzie, who was sitting in the centre of the rug, evidently waiting for Cat to come home.
“Mommy!” Madzie jumped up to her feet, clinging onto Catarina’s middle like it had been weeks since they saw each other.
“Hi, sweet girl.” Catarina picked her up and gave her a kiss on the cheek, “you and Dot got everything ready?”
“Madzie decided we’re gonna do some painting tonight,” Dot told Cat as she carried Madzie on through to the kitchen. Dot had put the old tablecloth on the dining table and Madzie jumped down from Cat’s hip to take her place, magicking her pink craft apron on.
“I’ll be right there, sweetie, I’m just gonna take a shower first, okay?”
Madzie was already reaching for the paints, but stopped when she remembered something. “Wait!”
Cat turned to look at her with a questioning look on her face.
“We have to eat first!”
Dot smiled at her, proud as punch. “That’s right, beansprout, what do you want for dinner?”
“Tacos,” Madzie answered, and Cat made a satisfied sound.
“Good call, Madz. I’m gonna shower and then we’ll have tacos, yeah?”
“Yes!” Madzie punched the air, jumping down from her chair to run and grab the takeout menu from the kitchen drawer.
The conversation he’d had with Magnus that morning was still in Alec’s head, and swooping low in his stomach, when he stepped through the portal Magnus had conjured for him. He frowned a little when he saw that Magnus wasn’t there to greet him, and glanced around. His eyebrows rose when he spotted a mundane woman, a blonde, coming out of Magnus’ apothecary the moment after the portal faded into nothing. Alec gave her a polite smile and a nod before letting himself into the apothecary.
Magnus’ face lit up at the sight of him, but he didn’t get up. “Alexander,” he murmured, “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” Alec returned, bending to give Magnus a kiss to the crown of his head. “Who was that?”
“India Carter, the lead of Wicked. She had a bit of trouble with her voice, nothing some ground up hawk claw can’t fix,” Magnus answered, getting up to put his ingredients away.
Alec hummed, picking up a tiny skull that was sitting on the table to take a closer look at it. “Haven’t seen you with a client for a long time.”
“When you’re the High Warlock it’s frowned upon, potential conflicts of interest,” Magnus explained, his eyes on the shelf in front of him. He felt nervous at the prospect of telling Alexander the truth about his new status, but he figured it was like a plaster… “But now that I’ve been relieved of duty I’m free to see whoever I want.” Better to rip it off quickly.
“Wait…” Alec put the skull down. “What? You’ve been demoted?”
“Yes. And I found the most incredible mocktail recipe. Tastes almost exactly like a vodka martini. You want one?” Magnus asked, sweeping past Alec to his drinks cart.
“Magnus, wait, wait,” Alec caught his arm, slipping his hand down to take Magnus’. “What happened?”
“Fallout of my decision to side with the Seelie Queen,” Magnus made his voice light, an empty smile on his face. “Honestly, I’m relieved.”
Alec didn’t look convinced. “Relieved?”
“Yes,” Magnus insisted, rubbing his thumb over the back of Alec’s hand. “It means I have more time to spend with my favourite person in the world.” That made Alec smile, and go in for a kiss, but Magnus moved away, back to the drinks cart. “And,” Magnus continued, “it means I can help people make their dreams come true…” He put all the ingredients in the shaker, “and make a lot of money doing it.”
“But being the High Warlock, you loved it.”
“I did,” Magnus nodded, shaking the mocktail smartly, “but I’ve been at it for almost fifty years. Shouldering all that responsibility gets exhausting.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Alec admitted, his eyes watching his boyfriend for any sign of upset. “But if you want to talk about it…”
Magnus poured his alcohol-free martini into a glass and took a sip. “It really is quite good.” He popped an olive into it and sat down on the couch. “So, how was Alicante?”
“It was mostly dull,” Alec told him, sitting next to Magnus on the couch. He’d been hoping for a cuddle, but Magnus was sitting up straight, his legs crossed, and Alec sensed that Magnus wasn’t in the mood for it. “But, um… The Consul pulled me aside after the rune ceremony.”
“Oh, I bet she did,” Magnus chuckled, “you’re the golden boy now, I imagine she wants to stick as close to you as possible.”
“She offered me a position on the Council.”
Magnus’ eyebrows rose a little. “Alexander, that’s wonderful!” He squeezed Alec’s knee. “It’s what you’ve always dreamed of. And so young.”
“I’ve…” Alec shifted a little closer, his eyes earnest, “I’ve always dreamed of meeting someone like you.”
He’d been expecting a kiss, but Magnus just chuckled, his eyes not quite meeting Alec’s. “I’ll always be here, Alexander. This is a wonderful opportunity. We should celebrate, go out.” Magnus got up, putting the faux-martini in Alec’s hand.
“But… It would mean moving to Alicante.” Alec reminded him.
“I’m always only a portal away, Alexander,” Magnus assured, finally kissing Alec’s forehead. Before Alec could reciprocate the affection, though, Magnus had hurried away to his bedroom, leaving Alec very confused. With nothing else to say, Alec sipped the mocktail. Hopefully Magnus would relax a little when they got some food and tell Alec how he really felt about everything.
“You know what time it is, scrappy?” Izzy asked, walking into the ops centre.
Clary looked up from where she’d been looking over her new list of duties. “Lunchtime?” She asked hopefully. Izzy giggled and shook her head.
“Not quite. Come with me.”
From the day they met, Clary had always had trouble denying Izzy anything she wanted, so she didn’t think twice about letting Izzy pull her down the corridors. Izzy could be taking her to have all her hair shaved off and Clary would happily follow.
“Now that you’re an official, qualified shadowhunter, it’s time to choose your signature weapon.” Izzy explained, showing Clary into her workshop and pressing the button to open all the weapons cabinets. “Alec has his bow, I have my whip… You can now pick your weapon, and I’ll customize it to your needs.”
Clary looked at the weapons in front of her with a sense of nervousness. “What do you think I should pick?”
“I can’t tell you,” Izzy insisted, “it has to be on your instinct. Don’t think too hard about it. Just choose.”
Looking at the variety of sword types, and then the staffs, whips, bows, and even a two-handed axe, Clary found her eye drawn to a narrow shortsword. Maybe a better word for it would be dagger, Clary mused, picking it up and feeling the weight of it in her hand. It was about the length of her torso, and very sharp all the way round. She stepped back and thought about how she’d fight with it, and hummed. She needed another, for her other hand.
“That one is designed for a dual wield,” Izzy nodded as she noticed Clary looking over the other daggers. “It’s an older one, I have no idea where it came from, but I didn’t make it.”
“These two don’t match,” Clary shrugged, picking up a shorter, flatter dagger with a black handle. “But they feel right together.”
“It makes sense,” Izzy smiled, impressed by her girlfriend’s instincts. “The heavier one is in the hand you use for balance, so you can use that for parrying and then the lighter one for quick movements. It suits your fighting style.”
Clary looked down at the two daggers, pride welling inside her that she apparently chose well. “What are you gonna do to customise them?”
“Well,” Izzy took both of the daggers to look at them. “I’ll give them matching handles, for starters.” She looked a little closer at the heavier one, arching her eyebrow as she spotted the circle rune etched into the blade. “And I’ll replace the circle rune with a balance one.”
“There’s a circle rune in it?” Clary wrinkled her nose. “Why is it here?”
“Weapons are recycled,” Izzy shrugged, “it must have been taken off a dead member of the circle. Don’t worry, I’ll sort it out.”
“So it’s not weird that I chose a circle weapon?” Clary checked.
Izzy shook her head. “Nope, Alec’s bow was used by one of Valentine’s cronies too. He had the circle rune replaced with the friendship rune. It can be good, using circle weapons to defend downworlders. Feels like a fuck you to the racists.”
Clary smiled, putting her hands on her hips. “That sounds good to me. When will they be ready?”
“I’ll get to work on them right now,” Izzy promised, “you on duty?”
“Not until tonight,” Clary replied, looking round as Izzy’s eyes lit up where they were looking past her shoulder.
Maia was standing in the doorway, her hands in the pockets of her leather jacket. “Then it sounds like I came at the perfect time,” she smiled, and Izzy and Clary both went to greet her with soft kisses. “I saw you in Alicante,” Maia told Clary, “you looked super beautiful.”
Clary shrugged, “so did Izzy.”
“Oh, I have no doubt,” Maia grinned, reaching for Izzy’s hand and squeezing it, “but Alec didn’t think to show me.”
“I’ll model my dress for you another time,” Izzy promised. “What are you doing here?”
“Well,” Maia tilted her head to the side. “I figured you were both back now, and we haven’t seen much of each other the past couple of weeks, so maybe we could do something fun together. And since Clary’s not on duty…”
Izzy considered it, knowing she had work to do. But, she told herself, now she was weapons master she set her own hours. “Sounds good to me,” she said, “what did you have in mind?”
“Have you ever been bowling?” Maia asked.
“Oh my God yes, we have to take you bowling.” Clary insisted.
“I don’t think I have,” Izzy mused, “but I’ve seen it in movies.”
Maia grinned. “Maybe we’ve found something that I can actually beat you in, then.”
“Don’t count on it,” Izzy smirked, which made Maia laugh.
“If we’re going bowling I want to change,” Clary announced, “It’s always freezing in the alleys.”
“Good call,” Maia agreed, glad that both her girlfriends (were they girlfriends yet? Maia couldn’t remember if they’d ever officially said) were on board with her date idea.
“Oh, that reminds me,” Maia said as they passed the arcade, “have you heard from Simon, Clary?”
“Not in a couple of days,” Clary answered, “why do you ask?”
“He didn’t show up to Magnus’ to watch your rune ceremony.” Maia told her.
“That’s not like Simon,” Izzy frowned, and Maia shrugged.
“Luke’s gonna go look for him once he’s done with work today, just in case. It’s just weird, usually he comes to the Jade Wolf at least once a day. He gets bored at the Hotel DuMort in the daytime.”
Clary chewed her lower lip. “What do you think happened to him?”
“I’m sure its nothing,” Maia said hurriedly, “but the Seelie Queen was very interested in him before. And suddenly the Seelies that were hanging around the Jade Wolf have disappeared.”
“The Seelie Queen is still sending me the occasional fire message, trying to convince me to join her,” Izzy nodded, “no doubt she’s trying just as hard to get Simon’s attention. Maybe me and Clary should go to the Court.”
“Definitely not,” Clary insisted, “she’ll only trap you there. No way, if anyone’s going to the Seelie Court it’s going to be me and Magnus. He can get us out of there quickly if things turn ugly.”
“Well hopefully Luke will find Simon holed up playing Breath of the Wild,” Maia shrugged, “last time I saw him he was looking forward to playing it, maybe he’s just gone down a video game rabbit hole.”
Clary snorted. “Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me.”
“We can only hope,” Izzy sighed, though she felt a thrill of excitement go through her as Maia held the door of the bowling alley open for her. She loved mundane stuff; she loved the movie theatre and riding a bike and playing pool, so she was sure she’d love this, too.
“Anyway, Luke will figure out what’s going on.” Maia said firmly, following Clary and Maia towards the front desk. “Let’s just enjoy our date.”
“Bets on who’s gonna win?” Clary smirked.
“It’s not fair, I’ve never played before!” Izzy insisted, “and I’m not betting against myself.”
Once they’d split the money for the alley three ways, Izzy, Maia and Clary swapped their shoes for the special bowling shoes, Izzy wrinkling her nose as she handed over her high heeled boots.
“It’s all a part of the experience, babe,” Maia laughed.
“You could’ve warned me that we’d have to wear clown shoes,” Izzy sighed, looking down at her black and red dress and then back at the blue and yellow shoes. “I could’ve at least made sure that my outfit matched.”
Clary giggled. “Nothing matches bowling shoes. Just embrace the chaos, Princess.”
Izzy hummed, sitting down to put the shoes on. “Embracing the chaos,” she confirmed, glancing around the alley as she tied the shoelaces. It was busy, though not full. Most of the alleys were taken, and there were several dozen people sat at what looked like a canteen. “What food do they serve here?”
“Nachos, fries, snacky stuff. You hungry?” Maia asked.
“I could go for some nachos,” Izzy admitted, “but let’s find our alley first.”
Clary led the way to their alley, and they set their jackets down on the seats. “First thing you have to do is choose what size ball you want.”
“No, first thing is making you guys promise that you won’t use runes,” Maia laughed, “steles on the table.”
Izzy and Clary set their steles down on top of the jackets with minimal complaining.
“I was bowling way before I even knew what runes were, I’ll be fine.” Clary shrugged.
“We’ll see,” Maia teased, making a beeline for the little keyboard where you typed in the names of the people bowling. “What am I calling you on here?”
Clary smiled at Izzy. “Scrap.”
“Are there enough characters for Princess?” Izzy asked, and Maia shook her head. “Guess it’ll just be Izzy then.”
“We need to think of a good nickname for Maia,” Clary pointed out, sitting down. “Something cute.”
“If either of you say pup or anything dog related, I’m dumping you,” Maia teased, and Izzy sighed dramatically.
“And there I was, gonna say Fido.”
“I hate you,” Maia laughed, digging her fingers into Izzy’s waist to make her giggle. “Okay, I don’t trust y’all, I’m just putting Maia.”
“Probably smart,” Clary agreed, watching with fondness as Izzy pressed apologetic kisses over Maia’s face. They were so cute together, and it made Clary feel all warm in her heart.
“Clary’s turn first,” Izzy said, sitting down as Clary stood up and chose her ball. “So you just need to knock down all the white things, right?” She asked Maia as she sat down next to her.
“Yeah, they’re called pins. It’s harder than it looks, though.”
Izzy hummed, watching the way Clary threw the ball with an arched sweep of her arm. It didn’t look too difficult, and she had good strength in her arms, so she wasn’t too worried. Clary knocked down eight of the pins, and sighed as she straightened up.
“Guess I’m a little rusty,” she shrugged, picking up a ball to do her second throw.
“See, now she has to choose which side to bowl, but she has to be careful not to let it go in the channel at the edge.” Maia pointed to what looked like gutters either side of the alley, and Izzy nodded.
Clary chose the right side, and sure enough, the ball rolled into the gutter. She groaned, and wrinkled her nose as she turned around to sit down next to Izzy. “I really am rusty.”
“My turn?” Izzy asked, excited to have a go.
“Yeah, you want me to help you the first one?” Maia offered, and Izzy shook her head.
“I got it,” she assured, picking up a medium weighted ball. Copying the way Clary had stood, she swung the ball. She must have let it go a little too late, because it hit the floor with a bit of a thump, but it made its way down the alley fairly straight, if a little slow. It knocked down seven pins, and Izzy straightened up, happy with the result, for a first try.
Clary let out a low whistle. “You really are good at everything, huh.”
“Forget Princess, she’s basically a superhero.” Maia sighed, crossing her legs. “Us mere mortals don’t stand a chance.”
Izzy giggled, doing a little curtsey as she chose her second ball. She aimed for the left, where two pins stood one in front of the other, and let the ball go a little earlier. This one was a lot faster, but too far left, and ended up in the gutter. Izzy huffed softly.
“Oh, maybe we do stand a chance,” Clary teased, holding out her hand for Izzy to sit on her lap. “That was awesome for a first try, though.”
“I’ll get them all down at once by the end of the game.” Izzy swore.
“I believe you,” Maia chuckled, taking her place at the mouth of the alley.
As they played, the three women got more and more competitive. Maia took the lead from the beginning, and Clary and Izzy battled for second place. They’d gotten some food halfway through the game, and picked at the nachos and fries as they played. Going into the last round, Maia had definitely won with a margin of 30 points, but Izzy was only 3 points off Clary, and determined to get her first strike on her last bowl.
She might have been taking this way too seriously, but growing up with Alec everything had been a competition, and she took pride in winning most of the time. Izzy took a moment with the ball in her hand, aiming just right of the middle; she’d figured out that she tended to throw a little to the left. As she swung the ball she focussed hard, and closed her eyes once it was out of her hand. She heard the ball hit the pins, and Maia and Clary both yelled. Izzy opened her eyes to see that all the pins had been knocked down, and Izzy threw both of her hands in the air and grinned from ear to ear.
“I can’t believe you beat me,” Clary laughed, shaking her head.
“That was beautiful,” Maia gave Izzy a high five as they passed. “Let’s see if I can win by 50 points.”
“Show-off,” Izzy teased.
Maia shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe.” Sure enough, she bowled a perfect strike, and fist pumped. “Fifty point margin. Thank you very much.” She took a little bow.
“Now that you’ve successfully dominated us, how about we go and get an actual burger? I’m starving,” Clary complained, and Maia hummed in agreement.
“That was so much fun,” Izzy enthused as she put her jacket back on, “I wish it could be like this all the time.”
“Me too,” Maia admitted, following Clary to the shoe desk. “But hey, we haven’t had an emergency for over a month, that’s pretty good going for us.”
“Is the pack all calm and boring too?” Clary asked, and Maia laughed.
“Only you would call no world-ending emergencies boring,” she told her redheaded girlfriend, “but no, not exactly. Russell and some of the others have been grumbling that Luke isn’t focussed on the pack.”
Izzy grimaced. “Do you think he’ll try and break away from the pack again?”
“Nah, he learned his lesson,” Maia shrugged, “I just hope that Luke starts to prioritise the pack more. We need him.”
“I’m sure he’ll be more focussed now that Valentine and Jonathan are dead,” Clary shrugged, handing the three pairs of bowling shoes back to the clerk. He walked away to grab their shoes and Clary turned to face the other two women. “We can all relax now.”
“Don’t say that,” Maia teased, “or Lucifer will burst out of the ground.”
Izzy agreed. “Yeah, that’s almost as bad as saying ‘what can possibly go wrong?’”
Clary laughed. “Alright, alright, I’m sure our doom is right around the corner, how’s that?”
The shoe clerk looked a little worried as he put Clary, Maia and Izzy’s shoes in front of Clary, which made all three women burst into giggles as they put their shoes back on.
“Okay, let’s go get some food,” Maia looped her arms through Clary and Izzy’s so she was in the middle, and they made their way out of the bowling alley.
When they reached the Hunter’s Moon, Maia excused herself to go to the bathroom, and Clary took the opportunity to bring up Izzy’s least favourite topic.
“I think we should tell her about the wish, Iz, I hate not being honest with her, and the longer we leave it the madder she’s going to be at us.”
Izzy sighed, her eyes on the bathroom door. “You’re right. I just hope she doesn’t freak out too much.” Maia emerged from the bathroom, and Izzy’s eyes darted away to land on the table.
“It’s gonna be okay,” Clary murmured, reaching for Izzy’s hand on the table.
“Whoa, who died?” Maia joked as she slid back into her seat, her eyebrows furrowing a little. “You alright, Iz?”
“Yes.” Izzy answered, glancing at Clary, who nodded. “But we have something to tell you.”
“When we were at Lake Lyn, Valentine took us by surprise,” Clary started, squeezing Izzy’s hand. “Originally, he, erm… Killed me.”
“He what?!” Maia yelled, and Clary and Izzy shushed her, glancing around the bar to check that no-one was paying attention to them. “What do you mean originally?”
“We found out that my angelic connection is to Cassiel, the angel of time.” Izzy explained, “right before I killed Jonathan I foresaw his moves, I knew what he was going to do so I was able to get ahead of him and kill him. And then at the lake when I saw Clary die, somehow I was able to reverse time, and change it, so that…” She swallowed hard, keeping her gaze firmly on the table, “so that I got the knife in the chest instead of Clary.”
Maia’s mouth was hanging open a little. “But you survived. I mean, obviously, you survived.”
“Not exactly,” Clary continued, “Izzy died slower than I had, the knife didn’t pierce her heart outright. I watched her die. After that, I felt… I felt so calm. My mind just went totally quiet, and I knew I was going to kill Valentine. It was like every cell in my body was focussed on making him pay for taking her away. He got one over on me and managed to restrain me, but when he turned to raise the angel I crawled over to Izzy and got her stele. Once I had that, it was easy. I came up from behind and stabbed him…” Clary shuddered, her eyes far away, “over and over again.”
“Oh my God,” Maia said quietly, her fingers curling around Izzy and Clary’s joined hand. “That’s….”
“It’s what he deserved,” Clary insisted, blinking back to the present. “Anyway, the angel was there, and he asked if I wanted to make a wish. And I did. I wished to bring Izzy back.”
Maia smiled, her eyes shimmering. “Of course you did.”
“But the wish wasn’t meant to be used for something so selfish,” Izzy explained, “it was meant to act as a last resort to save the world from being overwhelmed by evil.”
“Someone would have used it to wipe out demonic blood,” Clary said, “and that would’ve most likely included downworlders. I’m glad it’s gone.”
“We don’t know that,” Izzy mumbled.
“So, what, you disarmed the one nuke that the shadowhunters had?” Maia asked.
“If the Clave found out Clary would be put to death,” Izzy whispered, “which is why we’ve waited so long to tell you. Not even Alec knows. No-one can know.”
Maia nodded, sniffing. “I get it.” She curled her hand around the back of Clary’s neck and gave her a kiss. “You did the right thing. Thank you for bringing her back to us.”
Clary smiled slightly. “I’d do it all over again.”
Izzy blushed, loving the fact that her girlfriends would do such a thing, but also, deep in her gut, guilty that they’d trampled on the one hope that shadowhunters everywhere clung onto.
Luckily for Luke, there were not many vampires who smelled like Axe body spray and rubber soled-sneakers, so it didn’t take him long to track Simon to Central Park. He and Maia had been almost sure that Simon had been taken by the Seelie Queen, so it didn’t surprise him that the trail led there. Before he could reach the bridge where the entrance to the seelie realm lay, though, he found Simon walking down a path back towards the Hotel DuMort.
“Simon!” Luke called, catching up to him easily and pulling him into a hug. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah,” Simon answered, his face in a deep frown. “I think so, anyway.”
“Where have you been?! No-one’s seen you for days!”
Simon gestured with his thumb back towards the bridge where the seelie portal lay. “When we came to the court to rescue you, the Queen said she’d let you and Maia go if I promised to come back to her after the threat from Valentine had passed.”
“And you went?!” Luke asked, exasperated.
Luke sighed, looking at him hard. “So what happened?”
“Well, for the first couple of days she just had me sing to her, she liked the singing a lot.” Simon smiled a little, “actually she said I was like the next David Bowie, which was-”
“Simon, what did she want?” Luke pressed, and Simon put his fingers up to his forehead.
“After a while she told that guy Meliorn to ‘prepare the spear’ and the next thing I knew I was tied to a tree and he was, like, branding me, or something. Right here,” he tapped the middle of his forehead.
Luke tilted his head to the side, his eyebrows furrowed. “Branded you? Like… With a hot iron?”
“Yeah, a hot iron stuck to the end of a spear. She said only a daylighter could survive the ceremony.” Simon remembered, “can you see anything there now?”
“No, there’s nothing there.” Luke assured him. “And then she just let you go?”
Simon nodded. “I promised to come by and play her more songs, and she said it was okay for me to leave. She did say something else, though.”
“What did she say?”
Simon swallowed hard. “Though I walk in the daylight, darkness will follow.”
“Damn the seelies and their riddles,” Luke grumbled, “look, I’m not a huge expert on vampire lore. Our best bet is to go to the Institute; they have a library full of books on all kinds of downworlder and demon.”
“Yeah, good idea,” Simon agreed, “Alec will let us have a look, won’t he?”
Luke nodded. “Sure he will, let’s go.”
They’d only taken a few steps when Luke’s phone started to ring. Looking at the screen, Luke saw that it was dispatch. He gave Simon an apologetic look, but the vampire just shrugged it off.
“Answer it, it’s fine,” Simon encouraged.
Simon kicked at a loose rock in the path as Luke spoke in hurried tones to whoever was on the other end of the phone. He knew, from years and years of Luke working for the police, what was coming next. “You have to go,” Simon guessed when Luke hung up.
“I’m sorry, kid. I’ll catch up with you later, alright? There’s been a murder, I have to go.” Luke told him, already stepping away.
“Yeah, don’t worry about me, Luke, I’ll be fine,” Simon promised, grimacing once he’d turned away from Luke. He definitely did not know that he’d be fine.
Much to Luke’s chagrin, Ollie was already at the crime scene when he arrived. She made a beeline for him the moment he got out of his car, and Luke readied himself for more lying through his teeth. He’d never been great at being dishonest.
“I thought I told you to take a personal day,” Luke muttered as he walked towards the victim’s body, Ollie falling into step next to him.
“You don’t even own a motorbike,” she said accusingly, “I looked up your DMV records.”
“So naturally that makes me a werewolf,” Luke hissed at her, bending at the knees to get a closer look at the victim.
“Vic died of a knife wound to the throat, murder weapon was found at point 3,” the forensic examiner told Luke, “fingerprints were found on it, chances are its the husband, who has conveniently disappeared.”
Luke hummed, thanking god that this seemed to be an open and shut case. As he looked closer at the victim, though, he noticed the black veins that betrayed the fact that a demon had wounded her. His face must have betrayed himself, because Ollie looked sharply between Luke’s face and the victim.
“You know something about this, don’t you? Something is-”
Luke grabbed Ollie’s arm and straightened up, tugging her out of earshot of the other people working the scene. “Look, if people hear you ranting and raving about werewolves, you’ll find yourself sectioned real fast.”
Ollie glared at him. “You know that I’m right.”
“I know that I have a dead woman and a missing husband. Focus on that. What’s the guy’s name?”
“Tim Dempsey,” Ollie answered begrudgingly, “he works at the hospital a few blocks away.”
“Right. Thank you. I’m going to talk to some contacts.”
Luke gave her a dirty look. “No, angel contacts,” he said, hoping that he sounded sarcastic enough that Ollie wouldn’t believe him.
At the sound of his name, Magnus turned to see one of the mundanes from the meeting he’d just left. Jackie, he remembered, giving her a smile. She fell into step next to him and dug her hands in her pockets. She looked about fifty, though mundane addicts tended to age quicker, so it was hard to tell. For a moment they walked in silence, Magnus wondering why she’d approached.
“I know it can be daunting coming to group at first,” she said, shrugging one shoulder, “but it helps. It looked like it was hard for you to open up.”
Magnus swallowed hard. “It… It’s difficult for me to admit that I need help.”
“That much is obvious. And losing your job is hard, I’ve been there.” Jackie told him. “Do you have someone to go home to? You look like… Well, like you don’t want to be alone. It’s become something of a habit of mine, picking up the young ones and making sure they don’t feel as alone as I did when I was...” She trailed off, nodding slowly.
“Yes, I do.” Magnus answered, touched by her kindness. Her words resonated with him; he too had taken pleasure in assisting young people who found themselves in unfortunate situations. He understood the balm of using your pain to help another. “I have a boyfriend who’s getting off work in a little while.”
Jackie’s face lit up at the news. “You do? That’s wonderful. I love a good love story, call me a romantic.”
“He’s wonderful,” Magnus told her, smiling at the thought of Alec. “He’s one of the reasons why I’ve been putting so much effort into staying sober.”
“Well, that’s beautiful. But you know, one thing I’ve learned in my thirty years of coming to these things…” She stopped them, and put her hand on Magnus’ arm. “You can’t do this for anybody else. You have to do it for yourself.”
Magnus’ breath caught a little at her words. No-one had ever told him that before, not that simply, anyway. And she was right. He couldn’t do this to please anybody, not even Alec. He had to do this out of concern for himself.
Out of love for himself.
“Alec once said to me,” Magnus said softly, “love yourself like I love you.”
Jackie smiled faintly. “He sounds like a smart boy.”
Magnus nodded. “He is. Kind, too.”
“Then I won’t keep you from him any longer,” Jackie chuckled, reaching up to cup Magnus’ face. “You take care of yourself now, you hear? And I expect to see you tomorrow.”
“You will,” Magnus promised, laughing a little to himself as he walked away from her. She was probably over 400 years younger than him, yet she’d made him feel like he was just a young lad once more. It was nice. It was nice sharing space with mundanes now and again, especially for this. It put things into perspective. He might no longer be the High Warlock of Brooklyn, but he was still a person, and he was allowed to just be a person.
He’d forgotten that somewhere across the decades.
Raj sat down hard on the ground next to the punch bag, panting. He looked at his watch and blew out strongly, letting his body fall back so he was lying on the floor. He’d beaten his personal best by miles. Glad that he could consider today’s training a success, he looked himself over, trying to figure out if his muscles had grown again or whether he was just pumped from the 300-odd punches he’d just thrown. As his breath returned to normal, he sat up again and reached for his towel, rubbing his face and back with it. He definitely needed a shower before morning briefing.
When he got up and headed for the door, he was surprised to see Simon come around the corner, a pensive look on his face.
“Simon, what’s up?” Raj asked, his eyebrows furrowing. “Problems at the DuMort?”
“No, something else,” Simon told him, a little distracted by Raj’s pecs for a moment before he dragged his eyes up to Raj’s face. And then he was staring at lips. Simon resolutely lifted his gaze to Raj’s eyes to find them a little guarded, and Simon cleared his throat. “The Seelie Queen branded something into my forehead.”
“She did what?” Raj gasped, his eyes zeroing into Simon’s forehead. “Where?”
“It’s faded now, I think. But there was this fancy ritual for it, so I’m guessing it wasn’t something that just goes away with vampire healing.”
“Any idea what it looked like?”
“No, I couldn’t see it, it being on my forehead and all.”
Raj’s watch beeped, and he sighed. “Listen, I have to get to morning briefing, but I’ll meet you in the library as soon as I can, or send another shadowhunter to help you look, okay?”
“Yeah, I figured… Since you were Head of Intelligence,” Simon nodded.
“You came to the right place,” Raj assured him, patting him on the arm. “I’ll see you in a bit, alright? You know where the library is?”
“Pretty sure,” Simon confirmed, watching as Raj jogged away towards the barracks. “Holy shit.” He whispered, his cheeks feeling a little warm.
“The victim’s name was Sarah Dempsey, 37. I noticed that her injuries were made by a demon, and her husband, Tim Dempsey, 36, has gone missing. He’s a nurse at the New Hope hospital across town, and he hasn’t shown up for work this morning. We can’t find a trace of him, and there’s been no activity on his bank account.” Luke explained.
“Presumably Tim Dempsey has been possessed by some kind of demon,” Alec told his senior staff, “though there’s no way of knowing what kind. Catarina works at New Hope, hopefully she knows Dempsey. Other ideas?”
“Well, if he killed his wife then the demon is probably compelling him to kill those he loves most, right?” Aline pointed out, “we should find out who his closest relatives are and go see if they’ve seen him.”
Alec hummed in agreement, looking around at the team. “Agreed. Raj, you’re with me, we’ll go ask Cat for information. Luke, take Clary and go check on his relatives. Aline, I need you to keep base here, the new staff are arriving tomorrow, I need you to work with Izzy on a plan for checking them for demonic possession and then arming them. After what happened to Jocelyn I don’t want to take any risks. Everybody happy?”
There was a chorus of affirmatives, and Alec nodded.
“Let’s go to work.”
“All I’m saying is don’t burn yourself out,” Alec insisted, looking around for Cat as they came out of the elevator. “I know that it’s been hard for you since-”
“I’m fine, Alec, I’m feeling good,” Raj shrugged, rolling his shoulders a little. “Working on myself, focussing on work, training. I’ve never been the kinda guy who pines, anyway. It wasn’t me. Part of me thinks he must’ve worked some weird hypnotic shit, I have no idea what I was doing.”
Alec glanced sideways at him. “You were falling in love.”
Raj snorted. “Right.”
“Come on, man, it was real. Your feelings were real. It’s okay to mourn-”
“Alec,” Raj cut over him, “look, not all of us just fall in love and that’s that. I’ll start dating again when I can be bothered. Like I said, right now I’m focussed on myself.”
“Okay,” Alec stressed, “I’m just saying if you need to talk, I’m here. That’s all.”
Raj nodded. “I know, man. Thanks.”
“Boys,” Cat greeted them, looking a little confused. “Your shot isn’t until tomorrow, Alec, I’m not on the GIC ward today.”
“We’re here on Institute business,” Alec explained to her, “we think that a colleague of yours has been possessed by a demon.”
Cat’s eyes widened. “Tim?”
“How’d you know?” Raj asked.
“He didn’t show up for work today. He never misses a day, he loves this place. And the kids missed him. Usually Wednesday is music day, and he brings his guitar in to play for them. No sign of him today, though.”
“What can you tell us about him?” There was no doubt that Tim Dempsey had been possessed, but why would a demon choose a kind-hearted nurse to kill his equally regular wife? It made no sense to Alec.
“Tim’s a Saint. Like I said, he brings his guitar to sing for the kids every week. He was here last night. Everything was totally normal.” Cat told them, “it was an awful day for all of us, but he was chipper as always.”
“What time did you last see him?” Raj enquired, folding his arms. “He attacked his wife around 10pm.”
“About an hour before that, when I got off at 9,” Cat shook her head, “I said goodnight to him, I-” Her eyes widened, and she looked at Alec. “I asked him to go and check on this woman who was loitering by the nursery. I’d noticed her when I was on my way out and I thought…” She squinted a little, “I don’t know, I knew she wasn’t meant to be there.”
“You think she was a demon?”
“Or another possessed mundane, I remember she was wearing a dark dress, and her eye makeup was very stark. Not what you usually see on a new mother.”
Alec nodded. “Any security cameras?”
“Yeah, but I don’t have access to the tapes.” Cat admitted, “you’ll have to sneak into the security room or get Luke to apply for access.”
“I’ll do it the legit way,” Alec shrugged, “it’ll only take a little while longer. Thanks for your help, Cat.”
“No problem,” she assured him, tilting her head to the side. “How’s Magnus?”
“Uh…” Alec’s eyebrows furrowed. “Fine, when I saw him last night. Why?”
Cat rolled her eyes slightly, shaking her head. “I swear I’m going to wring his neck.”
“He’s devastated, Alec. He sounded like he was completely dissociative when he heard the news, I was worried sick. He went straight to an AA meeting.” Cat told him, “we need to keep a close eye on him.”
“He was? He insisted last night that he was happy that he wasn’t High Warlock anymore.” Alec felt a little sick. “Why did he lie?”
“He probably just doesn’t want you to worry. He hasn’t reached out to me or Ragnor either.” She assured him, “you know what he’s like. He doesn’t like to be a burden to anybody.”
Alec sighed. “Thanks for telling me.”
“Don’t be too hard on him, he’s hurting,” Cat reminded him, and Alec nodded.
“I’m sorry about your title, Magnus,” Raphael said, watching Magnus flit about the apothecary putting things away. Usually he left a mess, Raphael remembered, so he was clearly agitated.
“Lorenzo Rey has been waiting centuries for his day in the sun,” Magnus growled, “pompous ass probably engineered this whole thing.” He put a vial of zebra tears back on the shelf a little too hard, making a loud thump.
“I remember him from when I was a kid,” Raphael nodded, “I thought then that he was a snake.”
“You always were a good judge of character,” Magnus smiled slightly. “But enough about me, what can I do for you?”
Raphael’s eyes darted away, looking at the shelves around them. “I need Dagget Root.”
“The vampire tranquiliser…” Magnus arched an eyebrow. “Why?”
“A fledgling is having trouble adjusting,” Raphael explained.
Magnus hummed. “Well, lucky for them I am once again open for consultations,” he said, conjuring his diary into his hand. “I can do-”
“That won’t be necessary, we’ve got it,” Raphael interrupted, still not quite meeting Magnus’ eyes.
Suspicious, Magnus crossed the room to get the Dagget Root from the locked cabinet he kept his more dangerous substances in, wondering what could have Raphael acting so strangely. He grabbed the bottle and turned to find Raphael almost toe to toe with him, his hand out expectantly. Magnus held it out and Raphael went to grab it, but Magnus pulled it up out of his reach.
“What is this really for? What are you not telling me?”
“What do you mean?” Raphael asked, his eyes on the bottle.
Magnus narrowed his eyes. “I practically raised you. I can read you like a book written in all capital letters.” He poked Raphael in the centre of the chest. “Tell me.”
With a sigh, Raphael’s shoulders slumped. “It’s for me,” he confessed, swallowing hard. “Rosa isn’t doing too good. They say she only has a couple of weeks… Magnus…” He finally met Magnus’ eyes. “I can’t sleep.”
The hardest thing about Raphael becoming a vampire had been letting go of his family, Magnus remembered. He could see Raphael now, barely fifteen, desperate to control his urges so that he could go home to Rosa, his baby sister. In the end, Raphael had realised that he couldn’t go back to his human life, that he’d have to watch her from the shadows. It had eaten him up inside, but in the last few years, since Rosa’s memory had faded, Raphael had been able to insert himself back into her life. Losing her, Magnus knew, would break his heart.
“Oh, sweet boy,” Magnus said softly, cupping the side of Raphael’s neck. “I’m so sorry.”
For only the third time in his life, Raphael came in for a hug, and Magnus squeezed him tightly as he felt Raphael’s chest heave. “I don’t want to lose her, Magnus.”
“I know,” Magnus whispered, stroking Raphael’s hair. “I know.” As they broke apart, Raphael sniffed, and Magnus pressed the bottle of Dagget Root into Raphael’s hand. “Only one drop a morning, alright? It’s strong.”
Raphael nodded, clearing his throat a little, straightening his suit. “Thank you.”
“Let me know if there’s anything else you need, my door is always open.”
“I will,” Raphael promised.
Raj had wandered off when Cat and Alec’s conversation had turned to Magnus. It was none of his business, and he was hungry. He felt like he’d earned a snack with his morning workout, and he was glad to find a vending machine. His stomach growled as he fed in his dollars, but his mood plummeted when his bag of M&Ms got stuck.
“Are you kidding me?” He whisper-yelled, glancing around to check that no mundanes were looking before taking the sides of the vending machine and shaking it.
“Whoa, whoa!” A doctor came around the corner to see him, and Raj immediately let go. “Snack got stuck?”
“Yeah,” Raj nodded, “I’m not trying to break it, I just…”
“Mmm,” Raj agreed, his eyes on the M&M’s.
“Here, sometimes it takes brains rather than brawn.” The doctor volunteered, feeding in his own dollar and selecting the snack above the M&Ms. When they fell, they brought the M&Ms with them. “There you go.”
Raj looked at the doctor to give his thanks, but the words died on his lips when he met his eyes. He was really, really cute. And looking at Raj with intent. “Thanks.”
“No problem. You wanna switch?”
“I can’t eat almonds, I’m allergic.” The doctor explained.
“Then why’d you choose them?” Raj asked, a flirtatious smirk on his face.
“It’s the hippocratic oath, I have to help anybody in need.”
“Oooh,” Raj winced, “does that line ever work?”
The doctor laughed. “Sometimes.”
Raj took the almond candy out of the doctor’s hand and gave him the M&Ms. “Enjoy those.”
“I will.” Raj went to turn away, but the doctor put his hand on Raj’s elbow.
“Wait… Do you have a name?”
Raj shrugged. “Do you have a number?”
The doctor’s eyebrows rose a little, and he laughed. “Does that line ever work?”
“Every time,” Raj grinned, popping an almond candy into his mouth. Sure enough, the doctor took his pen from his pocket and wrote his number on Raj’s hand. The doctor’s name was Charlie.
“Do I get that name now?”
“Raj,” he answered, glancing over at the nurse’s station where he’d left Alec. Sure enough, Alec was watching him with an arched eyebrow. “I gotta go.”
“Call me,” Charlie said, and Raj nodded.
“What was that about?” Alec asked when Raj went back to him.
“Just canvassing some mundanes,” Raj shrugged.
“Mmmm,” Alec hummed, his eyes dropping to the scribbled number on Raj’s hand. “Sure looked like it.”
“What? He was cute.”
“Hey, I’m not judging,” Alec insisted, “just watch your step getting into relationships with mundanes.”
Raj snorted. “Oh, Alexander, my naive little gumdrop,” he put his hand on Alec’s shoulder. “You have so much to learn.”
“I know everything I need to,” Alec shrugged, “I’ve got Magnus.”
“Not all of us are so lucky, man. Some of us have to get our kicks where we can.”
“Can’t fault that,” Alec chuckled, “come on, we’ve gotta get back to the Institute.”
“I was so proud watching your rune ceremony, kiddo,” Luke told her as they got out of the car, heading towards the apartment complex where Tim Dempsey’s father apparently lived. “You were perfect.”
“I wish you could’ve been there,” Clary replied, “I was really nervous.”
“Everyone is, and you had an even bigger crowd than usual.”
Clary nodded, her eyes on the ground. “Just felt like kind of a fraud standing up there, like I didn’t really belong.”
“Clary, you killed Valentine. You stopped the wish from being granted. You saved the entire shadow world. You deserve all the praise anyone can give you,” Luke insisted, and Clary’s stomach tightened in knots. “Did you choose your weapons?”
“Yeah,” Clary was relieved for the change in subject, and pulled out her two daggers. Luke’s eyes immediately fell on the heavier one, his eyebrows furrowing.
“You chose that one? By yourself?” He asked.
Clary frowned. “Yeah, why? I know it used to belong to a member of the Circle, but Izzy said-”
“That’s Valentine’s dagger.” Luke told her, “I’d recognise my parabatai’s weapon anywhere.”
“What?” Clary felt like throwing it on the ground. “W-what does that mean?”
Luke shrugged one shoulder. “It means that he’ll always be a part of you, kiddo.”
Clary swallowed hard. “I don’t want him to be.”
“There’s darkness in all of us,” Luke pointed out, his eyebrows climbing up his forehead when he noticed the other dagger in her hand. “You… You chose that one, too?”
“Yeah,” Clary looked at him nervously, “whose was this, Satan’s?”
“It was mine,” Luke said quietly, holding out his hand for it. Clary let him take it and he spun it around in his hand, the muscle memory still there even after all those years. “One of mine. I had two.” He looked at her with eyes brimming with pride. “So now you have a balance. A balance of darkness, and love.”
“Light, you mean,” Clary corrected him, “darkness and light.”
Luke sighed. “I’m a downworlder, Clary.”
“And the best man I’ve ever known.” She insisted, squeezing his hand when he handed the dagger back to her.
“I don’t know what I’d have done without you the last few months,” Luke said softly, and Clary went in for a hug, but Luke’s phone rang, and the two of them sighed. “Garroway.”
“I’ve got Tim Dempsey,” Ollie told him, and Luke tensed.
“Ollie, let him be. I’ll be right there. Call for backup.”
“He’s just one guy, Luke, I’m not completely incompetent,” Ollie scoffed, “I got this. I found him at his father’s place.”
She hung up before Luke could give her another warning, and he started running towards the father’s address, Clary hot on his heels. When they reached the street, they found an old man staring at a broken window with his mouth hanging open. It seemed that Tim Dempsey had smashed through it in an attempt to get away from Ollie, into an indoor flea market which was, thankfully, closed. Luke jumped through the window and quickly stripped out of his shirt and trousers, Clary moving past him to check the perimeter as he shifted to his wolf form. It was easier to pick up the fairly unfamiliar scent of Ollie once he had the nose of a wolf, and he raced through the shuttered up stalls just in time to see Ollie shoot Tim Dempsey three times in the chest.
“Oh my God,” Ollie breathed as Dempsey kept on coming, and Luke barrelled into the possessed mundane, latching onto his arm with his jaws. The strength that the demon had given Tim Dempsey was no joke, though, and it threw Luke away like a rag doll. Luke hit the wall with a loud crunch, and Luke felt his hind leg give when he tried to get back to his feet. His werewolf healing was quickly mending the bone, but not quick enough. Luke whined in pain, struggling to move back towards Tim Dempsey. He was forced to watch as Dempsey grabbed hold of Ollie, tossing her aside like he had Luke.
“Hey!” Clary cried, coming out of nowhere and hurling one of her daggers at the possessed mundane. It caught the dagger and tossed it aside, but it distracted him long enough for Luke to get his injured leg back under him, and both he and Clary launched themselves at Tim Dempsey. Luke locked his jaws around the back of Tim Dempsey’s neck and Clary stabbed him through the leg. Rather than erupting from Tim Dempsey’s mouth like a regular possession demon, though, Tim Dempsey’s chest burst open to free a huge insect-like demon. Luke and Clary dropped what was left of Tim Dempsey and watched the demon fly around the rafters of the market.
“What I wouldn’t give to have Alec or Aline here right now,” Clary muttered, and Luke huffed in agreement. “Here goes nothing.” She aimed her remaining dagger at the demon, but the demon flew out of its path, and Clary grunted with frustration, snatching up her stele. Luke chased it towards her as it flew low, and Clary unleashed her sunlight rune as it swooped down to attack her. With a screech, the demon disintegrated into dust, and Clary let out a sigh of relief.
“Go and get dressed,” Clary told Luke, “I’ll make sure Ollie’s okay.” She ran over to the mundane detective, checking her pulse and her breathing. She’d known first aid since she was thirteen, thanks to Luke, and she was pretty sure that Ollie just had a concussion.
“She good?” Luke asked, jogging up to them in his trousers, pulling his shirt on hastily.
“I think so, call an ambulance just to be sure.” Clary answered, getting to her feet.
“Get back to the Institute, tell Alec what we saw.”
“Will do.” Clary nodded, “you good?”
“I’m okay,” Luke promised, already on the phone. “I’ll catch up with you later.”
“You think we’ve covered everything?” Aline asked, looking over the list of security checks she’d written down.
“This is all we can do without the help of a warlock,” Izzy shrugged, “and Alec told me not to ask Magnus if we can help it.”
Aline’s eyebrows furrowed. “Is Magnus okay?”
“He lost his position as High Warlock,” Izzy explained, going down the list of weapons she’d need to organise ready for tomorrow.
“Whoa, that’s rough.”
Izzy nodded, sighing softly. “I know. I’m gonna go over with lush products in a couple of days, but I figure he needs a day or two to be by himself first.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.” Aline smiled, “it’s so nice how he’s become part of your family.”
“Of course, Alec loves him. Besides, he’s a great friend. He’s always been there for me as much as he’s been there for Alec.”
Aline nodded, biting the inside of her cheek. “And Alec mentioned that Maryse talks to him now, they text.”
“Yeah,” Izzy nodded slowly, looking at Aline with curiosity. “Why?”
“Just…” Aline shrugged, fiddling with her papers. “Must be nice.”
Izzy’s gaze softened. “I’m sure you’ll get there someday. Your Mom is-”
“The most powerful woman in the Clave. And as such, expects nothing short of perfection.” Aline finished, her eyes still on the pages in front of her.
Izzy reached over to still Aline’s hand. “Hey. I thought that about my Mom too,” she reminded Aline, which seemed to be something of a comfort to the other woman. “They can surprise you.”
“I hope so,” Aline said quietly.
Izzy smiled reassuringly. “Your Mom loves you. She’ll accept it, it’ll just take some time.”
“I just can’t wait for me and Helen to finally be stationed at the same Institute,” Aline admitted, “I hate long-distance. It’s been awful.”
“Yeah I can’t imagine being away from Clary and Maia for more than a couple of days, it would be awful.”
“Oh, it is. And there’s no WiFi in the Alicante barracks so we couldn’t even video chat privately.”
“That sounds like hell,” Izzy shook her head, “how long’s it been since you were together properly?”
“Nearly six months. We’ve seen each other for a couple of hours here and there, but we haven’t spent 24 hours together in five months and eighteen days.” Aline smiled a little, “but tomorrow I get to see her.”
“Ahhh,” Izzy bounced in her seat a little, “that’s so exciting!”
“I know, I know I’m not sleeping tonight, I can barely eat. I just want her back, I’ve missed her so much.”
Izzy cooed, resting her chin on her hand and her elbow on the workbench. “I’ll do as much as I can tomorrow with the newbies so you can get away with her early.”
“It’s okay,” Aline shrugged, “we waited almost six months, we can wait until after our shifts are over. I don’t want to set a precedent.”
Izzy giggled, “well, you have more dedication than me or Alec if that’s the case.”
Aline snorted. “Both of you are whipped, that’s why.”
“Oh and you’re not? Miss Counting-The-Days,” Izzy teased.
“I’m the one who wears the pants,” Aline insisted, “if either of us are whipped, it’s Helen.”
“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Izzy countered, and Aline stuck her tongue out at her.
Luke went to the hospital to wait for Ollie to wake up. There was no way he could convince her that Tim Dempsey was a regular murderer; she’d seen him survive three bullets to the chest. He’d already tried having Simon glamour her once; she must have some safeguard to remind her of the truth if she got her memory wiped. Evidently she’d done her homework.
He couldn’t see any other option. He had to tell her the truth.
When she woke up, she immediately went to sit up, remembering the situation she’d been in, and Luke soothed her, putting himself in her line of vision so that she knew she was safe. “What happened?” She demanded.
“We got him,” Luke told her, “he’s not gonna hurt anyone else.”
“Who’s we?” Ollie asked, “the pack?”
Luke shook his head, swallowing hard. “No, my daughter and I.”
“The girl from the Jade Wolf?”
“No,” Luke answered, “that’s Maia. I have another daughter.”
“Oh.” Ollie looked at him, her eyebrows furrowed. “That was you, wasn’t it? The wolf that saved me.”
Luke glanced around. No-one was paying attention to them. “Yes,” he admitted, sighing deeply. “I didn’t want you to know because this, you knowing about the shadow world, puts you in great, great danger.”
“The shadow world?” Ollie sat up slowly, unblinking.
“All the legends are true,” Luke told her. “Werewolves, vampires, warlocks, angels.”
Ollie raised her eyebrows. “Whoa.”
“You cannot tell anyone,” Luke insisted, leaning close. “I could be executed for telling you this. And I can’t stress how dangerous it is, you knowing. You have to be very, very careful.”
“I will be,” Ollie promised, nodding once. “Am I going to get an apology for you lying to me?”
“I only did it protect you,” Luke insisted, “but yes, I’m sorry for lying to you. I hated doing it, but I didn’t have a choice.”
Ollie could see his seriousness on his face, and her expression grew grave. “I don’t take this lightly, Luke, I promise.”
Luke nodded, looking away. He had the worst feeling that he’d just signed her death certificate.
Simon was apologetic when Raj met with him in the library after they’d returned from the hospital and Alec had gone to complete the paperwork to get the hospital CCTV footage. The vampire seemed twitchy, like he felt guilty about something. Raj suspected that he felt guilty for existing, and he could relate to that feeling, so he was as kind as possible.
“It’s part of my job,” Raj assured him, “and even if it wasn’t, I’d help you.”
“Oh.” Simon seemed to relax a little at that, and shoved his hands in his pockets. “I appreciate that.”
“Any time,” Raj shrugged. “We’re friends.”
Simon chuckled nervously. “Yes. Yes, we are.”
Raj arched his eyebrow. “Why are you being weird?”
“I’m not…” Simon looked like he was staring down the barrel of a gun. “I’m not being weird.”
“You are being weird,” Raj pressed, taking a book on vampires down from the shelf. “You look twitchy, like there’s something you’re not telling me.”
Simon scratched the back of his head. “It’s stupid.”
“Probably,” Raj agreed, a wry smile on his face, “but spit it out so I can relax.”
“I didn’t expect… You know, earlier.”
Raj narrowed his eyes, trying to decipher what exactly Simon was getting at.
“I didn’t expect you to be fucking ripped, man!” Simon said hurriedly, and Raj were sure that if he weren’t a vampire he’d be blushing.
It still didn’t quite make sense to Raj, but he nodded slowly. “Right. Well… I am a shadowhunter. And I’ve been training hard the last few weeks, thanks for noticing. Oh!” He looked at Simon again, feeling his own cheeks heat up. “Oh.”
“I told you it was stupid,” Simon muttered.
So Simon had a crush. Raj had to admit, he’d thought more than a couple of times about the kisses they’d shared at Max’s rune ceremony celebration. “I’m flattered,” he said, “but after the whole Jonathan thing, I don’t think-”
“No, I know, I know,” Simon insisted, “you don’t have to say it. I get it. Dude was enough to put anyone off dating. I get it.”
“Right,” Raj nodded. “Well… Good.”
It was a little awkward for a moment, but Simon pointed to the book in Raj’s hand. “So… Vampire lore?”
“Yeah!” Raj enthused, maybe a little too much. He put the book on the table in the centre of the room, licking his pointer finger to flick through the pages. “Let’s see if daylighters can take shadowhunter runes, it might have been one of those.”
“Yeah, yeah, that makes sense.”
“Have you been practising? You’re on fine form tonight, Alexander.” Magnus hummed, surveying the pool table.
“You mean that?” Alec asked casually, chalking the end of his cue.
Magnus paused where he was bending to take his shot, glancing up at his boyfriend. “Yes…?”
“It’s just that you seem to be saying things you don’t necessarily mean lately…” Alec murmured, blowing the excess chalk dust off the top of his cue.
“What?” Magnus straightened up, one eye slightly narrowed in confusion. “What are you getting at, Alexander?”
“Well, you said that you were… What was the word? Elated? To not be High Warlock anymore, but I find out through the grapevine that actually you’re pretty devastated.” Alec shrugged, “so you can see where I was confused.”
Magnus sighed. “Who told you that?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Alec insisted softly, coming around the pool table to stand in front of Magnus. “Why did you lie to me?”
“Because…” Magnus swallowed hard, his eyes avoiding Alec’s. “As far as we’ve come… I guess I still have trouble being honest when I know the truth would make you worry about me or make you feel bad.”
“I’m here for you, always,” Alec promised, “you never have to squash your feelings to protect mine. When I was dishonest with you for your own good, the soul sword mess happened. We need to trust each other if this is going to work.”
“I do trust you.” Magnus replied insistently, his fingers reaching out to curl in Alec’s shirt. “More than just about anybody. But… I didn’t want you to worry about me. And I wanted to be okay with it. I really did. I thought if I said I felt good about it, it would start being true.”
“That makes sense,” Alec admitted.
Magnus nodded. “The truth is I’m…” He met Alec’s eyes. “I’m going to AA meetings again, and I feel like shit. And… I don’t want you to take the job on the Council.”
“Then why did you say that I should?” Alec asked gently, though he thought he already knew the answer.
“Because this is your life, and I know that your career means a lot to you. This is a big deal and I didn’t want you to put your life plan in jeopardy just because of me.”
Alec snorted softly, cupping Magnus’ face in his hands. “When are you going to get it into your head that YOU are my life plan? The entire plan. All I care about.”
Magnus’ fingers encircled Alec’s wrist, leaning his face into his boyfriend’s touch. “It’s selfish of me to ask you to turn this thing down just because I feel a certain way about it.”
“Babe, all I care about is how you feel. And if you think I wouldn’t do the same thing if our positions were reversed… Call me a brat but I’d be quite vocal about my preference for you to stay in New York.”
“I have no doubt,” Magnus chuckled, his thumb petting the back of Alec’s hand. “So… You’re not going to take the job?”
Alec kissed Magnus’ little pout. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Maia was relieved that the Hunter’s Moon was quiet tonight, because it meant she could finish off her reading for class while she was washing up glasses. She was a little distracted by whatever intense discussion Magnus and Alec were having across the room though, her eyes wandering to the two men more than once. They were so tactile with each other, and their gazes so openly vulnerable when their eyes met. Maia wondered if she’d ever reach that level with Clary and Izzy. She cared about the two women, but she couldn’t quite imagine looking into their eyes with that kind of helplessness. Would she ever fully lower her guard?
She just couldn’t picture it.
But then, she told herself, she never thought that she’d ever settle either. When the three of them agreed to only sleep with each other, Maia had been a little nervous, but she hadn’t missed any of her old booty calls. She hadn’t even thought about casual sex. She’d rather spend an evening cuddling up with Clary and Izzy showing Izzy all the childhood classics she’d missed being a shadowhunter.
Smiling at the memory of Izzy’s enthusiasm about The Lion King, Maia turned her attention back to drying the wine glasses. She looked up when the bell over the door jingled, a little surprised when she saw it was Luke coming in. He didn’t usually come by the Hunter’s Moon in the evening, so her first thought was that something was going on with the pack.
“Hey,” Luke nodded at her as he sat down on the bar stool closest to her, “quiet night?”
“Yeah, just the way I like it.” Maia confirmed. “What are you doing here?”
“Just got out of work, thought I’d come to ask how the pack’s doing.”
Maia’s eyebrows furrowed. “Why would I know?”
“Well if nobody’s gotten in touch with you, there can’t be anything major going on.” Luke pointed out.
“You’re supposed to be the alpha, Luke, you need to be looking after us. I haven’t seen you at the Jade Wolf in like three days.” Maia reminded him, shaking her head. “Valentine might be gone but we still need you.”
“I know,” Luke muttered, “but I’ve been busy at work trying to figure out these demonic murders.”
“That’s Alec’s job, not yours. Your duty is to the pack.”
“Life’s not as black and white as that, Maia, you know that.” Luke pointed out, resting his elbows on the bar. “As much as I want to be there for the pack, I have other responsibilities too. You’ll understand what I mean when you’re alpha.”
Maia arched her eyebrow. “What are you talking about, when I’m alpha?”
“I’m not going to be young forever,” Luke shrugged, “you’re the obvious choice to lead the next generation. We both know it.”
Maia straightened up a little. “You think I’m…? So, what, you’re leaving me to deal with everything as practise?”
“No, I’m just saying that one day you’ll understand how difficult it is to juggle everything.” Luke stressed, “I mean, by then you’ll probably be settled down with Izzy and Clary, and working with marine-”
“If I became alpha I would make it my priority, because it’s not just about my life, it’s about the lives of the entire pack. I wouldn’t allow anything to distract me from that.” Maia insisted.
Luke looked at her, the way she was damn near glaring at him, and he believed her. “Alright. Alright, I get your point. Alec is on the case of these murders now, I’ll try and be at the Jade Wolf more.”
Maia nodded. “Good.”
“So can I get a beer now or am I firmly on the naughty step?” He asked tentatively, and Maia snorted, grabbing a beer for him out of the fridge behind her and giving it to him along with a bottle opener.