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The Hangover

Chapter Text

“Maryse, it’s Jace.”

 “Jace, where in the realm of the angel are you and Alec?” She seethed.  

“Listen- we messed up. Last night--” 

“What are you talking about?” 

“The bachelor party, the whole night-- things got out of control.” He paused, letting out a shaky breath. “We lost Alec.”

“What?”

“We can’t find Alec.” He reiterated, his tone saturated in his own disbelief. 

“What are you saying? He’s getting married in five hours.” Through the phone, Jace could hear her high heels pacing around the stone institute floors. 

“Ughh… that’s not going to happen.”

 


Twenty-four hours earlier

 

“A bachelor party!” Izzy was beaming. “I’m throwing you a real, mundane-style bachelor party, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Alec opened his mouth, about to make an excuse, unable to get a word in before Izzy continued. 

“Before you say ‘ No Izzy, Valentine is still on the loose, I can’t take a night off.’” She mimicked Alecs gruff voice. “I already pulled all the necessary strings. You’re off duty tonight, the whole night. You don’t even have to be here for morning briefings. You, my brother, have an entirely free schedule until your wedding.”

“Shadowhunters don’t do bachelor parties.” He raised his hands dismissively and tried to walk past her. She stepped in his path, blocking him. Sighing in defeat, he pinched the bridge of his nose and spoke through gritted teeth. “Marriages are a sacred ceremony of duty and honor. They’re not some glorified day-long party like mundanes have. I’m taking on a big responsibility tomorrow.”

“Alec, you’re only getting married once. And even if you don’t think so, you need to let loose once in your life. All you have to do is show up, I’ve taken care of the rest. I won’t take no as an answer.” Her deep-fuschia lips stretched into a mischievous smirk as she toyed with her ruby necklace. 

Whatever she had planned, Alec knew he was going to hate it.

 


 

A few hours later when Isabelle led him, blindfolded, into a room he’d been portalled to, he was even more convinced of how horrible this would be.

“Count to five, and then take it off.” He could hear her smile in her voice. The unbounded excitement Isabelle had all day was the only thing that convinced him to go along with this. Even when she was being annoying, Alec always played the role of the big brother, unable to deny his baby sister this kind of happiness.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

He counted with the well-timed precision of a shadowhunter. When he took down the blindfold,  Jace was standing in the middle of the club-like room, eyes filled with mixed emotion at the sight of his parabatai.

The next few minutes were spent repairing the stress from the last few weeks. Tensions had been high between the brothers, with Clary Fray bursting into their lives and shattering their delicately crafted dynamic. They digested the revelation that Clary and Jace were siblings, commented on Alec’s sudden marriage, and poked fun at the newly-turned vampire Simon. Alec felt bad for being so hard on Izzy about this party. She had arranged what he really needed, time to reconnect with his parabatai. 

“Will you be my sugennes and give me away tomorrow?” It was the question he had been wanting to ask since he proposed to Lydia, and now he finally had his chance.

“If this is what you really want, Alec, I would be honored.” He wrapped Alec into a bear hug, feeling an amiable warmth pulse through their bonding runes.

The sentimental moment was cut short when suddenly three more faces joined them in the room, smiles beaming brighter than the multicolored LED lights. 

“Guys! That was so cute!” Simon and Izzy gushed simultaneously, coos and remarks of joy overlapping. Izzy finally won out.

“We were waiting for you to pop the question before starting the second half of your bachelor party! We didn’t think you’d open up so quickly!”

“More time to party then!” Jace grinned, clapping Alec on the back.

“No. Absolutely not. This is not happening.” Alec backed up, trying to find an exit. “I’m going home, getting a good night’s sleep-”

“Not on my watch, brother.”

“And not on mine either, parabatai.”

“You even have a dedicated designated driver!” Simon chimed in. “Vampires can’t exactly get drunk.”

“Who invited the vampire?” Alec’s voice was unamused. He pointed a finger at Simon, his eyes not leaving Izzy’s. “He’s not driving me anywhere, by the way.”

“I did…” Clary sheepishly raised her hand. Alec wasn’t quite sure why she was there, but at least it wasn’t as bad as Simon. “Look, I understand if you don’t want me here. It was Izzy’s idea, but I can leave-”

In all honesty, Alec didn’t want her to be there. But even though he didn’t like her, he realized that it would be stepping on more than one pair of toes if he told her to leave. He knew he wasn’t particularly good at responding to these types of situations, but a sudden surge of pride filled him as he realized he could shoot back with a cruel joke. Alec’s face softened a bit as he let out a chuckle, already laughing at his own joke he was about to make.  Everyone stared in amazement at Alec’s change in demeanor, seeming out of character and very sudden. But even the most respectable shadowhunter couldn’t resist a good joke.

“Nonsense, little girl. You’re Jace’s sister , which means you’re my sister too. Of course you’re coming with us.” Everyone in the room shifted uncomfortably. The Morgenstern family drama was still a touchy subject. Alec ignored the discomfort, taking a few steps toward his little sister. “At least, she would be coming with us if we were going anywhere. Which, Izzy, we aren’t.”

“Come on Alec, one drink? For your parabatai ?” Jace pouted, his falcon-like features transforming into something more akin to a baby owl. 

“Fine… one drink. And then we’re going home. All I want before my wedding is a good night’s sleep.” This wedding wasn’t something he was exactly looking forward to, and he just wanted some quiet time to sit back and reflect. He didn’t want to be at a rented out bar drinking the night away. 

“I knew you’d come around!” Jace beamed, pulling something out of his leather vest.

“Just in case you actually went along with this, I prepared a few words.”

Everyone groaned.

“You guys might not know this, but I used to consider myself a bit of a loner. I thought of myself as a one-man wolf pack, except not the downworld type of wolf, just the little boy kind.”

More than one eyebrow was raised in response to that statement. Jace continued.

“But when the Lightwoods brought me home, they took me in as one of their own. And my wolfpack, it grew by five...” Jace looked puzzled for a second. “Oh when I wrote this, I forgot that Max was wasn’t  born yet. My wolf pack, it grew by four . So there were five of us in the wolf pack. But again, not werewolves, just shadowhunters. Max joined later. And when Clary showed up, another shadowhunter, I thought, ‘Could it be true?’ and another was added to the pack. Four of us shadowhunters, running around New York together, fighting Valentine and now here-- celebrating my parabatai’s wedding. So tonight, I make a toast.”

Jace pulled a flask out of his jacket, trading it for the prepared speech. Izzy had brought shot glasses to the table, and he filled them generously. 

“To a night the four of us and the fifth-wheeling vampire will never forget.” 

 


Approximately 18 hours Later

 

The air was stale and musty, a smell of cigarettes clinging to Jace’s nostrils as he stirred. He squinted his eyes further shut. Even with his eyes closed, the daylight felt like knives digging into his skull. His body felt heavy and his head was swimming, worse than when he’d been poisoned by ravener venom. The simple movement of trying to lift his head proved nearly impossible. Something cold was beneath his cheek-- the floor. Skin clung to the stone as he managed to get his head up high enough to rest it in his hands. He didn’t want to think about what made the floor so sticky, all possible options made his stomach churn.  

A skipping record roused Jace from the floor. 

 

“I got the magic st-”

“I got the magic st-”

“I got the magic st’

 

The sound drilled a hole in his brain and he couldn’t bear it a second longer. The turntable was on the other side of the expansive living room, forcing him to take in the scene around him on his way there. It was far worse than anything he could have imagined.  

The first alarming detail: he had no recollection of this penthouse, and the skyline outside of the floor-to-ceiling windows didn’t look familiar. Ashtrays distributed around the various tables explained the stale cigarette smell. Bottles of various sizes were everywhere, some having spilled onto the floor, one looking like it was filled with a yellow liquid that Jace did not like the look of. 

Curtains, pulled off of their rods, covered various surfaces, one acting as a blanket for a statue of an alien. Where that alien came from was anyone’s guess. He had almost made it to the record player when he heard another sound, worse than the skipping record.

 

Quack 

 

He jumped nearly two feet in the air, trying to catch his breath. There was a small kiddie pool filled-- judging by the bottles piled around it--- with lemon-lime soda. Floating on its surface was the only thing the blonde shadowhunter feared-- a duck. It sat there, mocking him and staring at him with those beady little eyes. Water splashed lightly as it ruffled its feathers, making Jace’s heart nearly stop. 

It’s just a duck, Jace. If you walk away from it, if you can’t see it, maybe it won’t exist. 

Walking away from the duck as fast as he could without scaring it, he closed the distance to the record player, swiping the needle off the black vinyl. He furrowed his brow as he read the label on it-- Magic Stick ft. 50 Cent. He didn’t recognize the name of the mundane artist, but the artwork made it very clear what the song was about. 

Now that the noise had stopped, he could think clearly enough to assess the rest of the situation. Nobody from the group was anywhere to be seen, but from the looks of it there were plenty of rooms to explore. First on his agenda was to find a bathroom. Somehow he was lucky, because the first door he tried opened to reveal the biggest bathroom he’d ever seen. The thought had never occurred that a bathroom could be so large. A bathtub, more like a small pool, was directly in the center, answering the question of where one member of the party was.

Clary Fairchild was floating in the middle, on a bright pink inflatable pool float. Splayed on her back, she clutched a pineapple like a baby, snuggling into it while she slept. A baseball cap cocked sideways on her head, she wore bikini bottoms with a t-shirt that read: “#1 Sister”. Jace quietly closed the door, hoping to find another bathroom soon, because clearly this one was not an option.

Down the hall, Jace opened another door to what seemed to be a master bedroom. The four-post bed was empty: literally empty. The mattress was gone, but soon it became clear where it went. A balcony was attached to the bedroom, almost trashed as much as the living room. Someone had used silly string in an attempt to draw the stamina rune, and what looked to be birthday cake was smeared on every surface; every surface including the mattress Isabelle Lightwood lay sprawled across.

She thankfully rested face down, naked except for her tights, giving the perfect view of something more shocking than even the duck: Her trademark cocoa locks had been dyed platinum blonde. On her bare back, written in sharpie: Demons dig blondes. Jace found a blanket on the floor and draped it over her, but not before noticing what looked like a fresh tattoo on her side. 

A tattoo… or a rune? 

Jace was too afraid to check- it was the shape of the parabatai rune. He shook his head, too tired to unpack that can of worms right now. A thought popped into his head. When Izzy finally awoke, she would need some clothes to put on. Izzy might be very comfortable with her body, but not that comfortable. Digging around the piles of random objects in the bedroom, he found some kind of large shirt and placed it beside her. The urge to find a bathroom grew stronger, and he hoped the master bedroom had an ensuite. His dreams came true as he walked into a more humble bathroom. This one did not have any shadowhunters floating in the bathtub, so he closed the door behind him and raised the toilet seat. It wasn’t surprising that the water inside was filled with purple glitter.  As he washed off his hands, he started to read messages drawn sloppily all over the mirror in red lipstick.

“Isabelle Clary and Simon were here and they are awesome”

“Vampires suck”

They were all in Isabelle’s handwriting. He shook his head, chuckling. There was still one person left to find, two if Simon wasn’t smart enough to head home before daylight. Which could be a possibility, considering he still had no idea how far from home they were. 

The next bedroom was empty. The bed looked messy, but empty. Opening a door to what looked like a walk-in closet, he shut it immediately. Simon slept curled up inside, obviously hiding from the daylight. Jace didn’t look for long, not wanting to let any sun in, but it looked like he’d been wearing a pink tutu and a tiara. 

With Alec still unaccounted for, he continued to explore. He found a small set of steps leading up to a dining room with a piano. A long glass table had every type of takeout food imaginable spread out, and Jace grabbed a slice of cold pizza to satiate his growling stomach. There was nobody in the dining room or in the adjoining kitchen, so as he paced around to stare at the skyline, he tapped mindlessly at the piano keys. 

Suddenly a pile of curtains rustled on the floor, a blonde-haired blue eyed face popping up like a meerkat. She wore her wedding dress, stained with various types of alcohol and food. 

It was Lydia Branwell. 

“Lydia, thank the angel. You’re the only other person awake.”

“What the hell happened here last night?” She remained huddled amongst the curtains, pulling them around her protectively. Her eyes searched the scene, discomfort growing at her inability to form an answer for herself. It was unusual for her to be unprepared, and without an exit strategy, she was treading water and visibly starting to go under.

“You’re asking me? The better question is how did you get here?”

“I was at the Institute when I got a call from Clary Fairchild to meet her at some late-night Thai restaurant. It sounded important. That’s… the last thing I remember. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“We were toasting to Alec’s bachelor party. I convinced him to have one drink. I vaguely remember leaving the bar Izzy had rented out, going to a club. Then I woke up there-” He pointed to a spot on the floor next to a spilled bottle of Jack Daniels. “On the floor.”

“Where is everyone else?” She looked around in disbelief, realizing she didn’t know where she was. Jace, resigned to it at this point, took another bite of pizza.

“Clary’s in the bathroom, Simon is in a walk-in closet, Izzy is on the balcony, and you were here.”

“So… where’s Alec?”

“That was exactly what I was going to ask you.”

Suddenly, Lydia realized that she was sitting there, in her wedding dress.

“Oh fuck .”

“Lydia Branwell, envoy to the Clave… watch your language.” He spoke with his mouth full, pointing a finger at her. She buried her head in her hands. “But I agree, ‘oh fuck’  is right.”

“We need to wake the others up. Get this sorted out, find Alec, get back to the Institute…” She took in a deep breath, standing up and smoothing her hands over the skirt of her dress-- which was now haphazardly chopped to miniskirt length. “And…” She swallowed, trying to salvage whatever pride she could. Her lips pressed into a line, the bravest face she could manage.

“I need to find a new dress.”

 

Chapter Text

Ten minutes later, they gathered in a circle, holed up in the room where Simon had been hiding. Even with the curtains drawn, he chose to sit in the closet with the door open, afraid of the sunlight. 

“Alright guys, we’ve got to figure this out.” Jace tried to lead the group, who all seemed reluctant to face the day. They shared a mutual, piercing headache, and all they wanted to do was ignore everything and go back to sleep.

“I don’t even know where to start.” Simon spoke, a light lisp obscuring his speech. “I don’t know where we are, and it’s daylight. So I’m stuck here until the evening.” He held his mouth for a second, his face transforming into utter shock. “Holy shit guys.. Am I missing a tooth?!” He held out his mouth, putting it on display. His left upper canine, one of his vampire teeth, was missing. “I’m a vampire, how will I ever eat again?” He started to cry. His hypochondriac senses followed him into vampirism, and losing this type of control over his body was too much to handle for his hungover brain.

“Pull yourself together, vampire.” Lydia said coolly, the words hitting Simon like a slap in the face. He attempted to regain composure, the cries transforming to a whimper as Lydia continued to speak. “Drinking blood from a human donor is against the accords, you know that. You don’t need fangs to drink from a blood bag. An animal blood bag, of course.”

“Hey, I’m not ‘vampire’. I’m Simon, thank you very much.”  

“Guys, stop it, we need to figure out what’s happening. We can’t do that if we’re having petty arguments.” Clary, always the peacemaker, looked at both of them with kind green eyes. The snapback hat still perched atop her head, covering her wet hair. 

“As much as I love to argue with the mundane-” Jace started.

“Vampire-” Simon corrected. He scratched his head, noticing the tiara there and ripping it off in a panic. 

“By the angel, you two are impossible.” Izzy finally chimed in. Nobody was sure if she had looked at a mirror yet, but it was very hard to focus on anything except her new hair color. Either she wasn't aware or she was in denial. “I, for one, am far too hungover for this. I need to activate  my iratze so that I can figure this out with a clearer head.” 

“I tried to do the same thing Iz-- it was my first instinct when I woke up, but I can’t find our steles anywhere.” Jace crossed his arms, frustrated by the reminder that usually a simple swipe of the stele could fix all of his discomfort. 

“You won’t find them.” Simon stopped poking around in his mouth to contribute to the conversation. “After we had that first drink, Izzy said that ‘No Shadowhunter business was allowed’ and put all her steles in her purse.”

“Let’s look around in this apartment then to find the purse, no big deal!” Clary’s eyes lit up. She was always so full of hope and optimism.

“How little do you guys remember?” Simon scanned the room. Nobody would meet his eyes. “Oh dang.

“Why don’t you enlighten us, vam- I mean Simon.” Jace chewed his cheek, dreading what he was going to hear.

“Isabelle put her purse in her room at the Institute, on our way to the next bar. She said that it would ‘kill her dancing game’ too much to tote around such a big bag.”

“And we let her do that?” Jace’s voice was flat.

“Yes, I would love to hear why four shadowhunters saw it fit to shirk their duties and leave behind their steles.” Lydia narrowed her eyes.

“Who saw it fit to crash their fiance's bachelor party in their wedding dress?” Jace threw daggers with his words. “And, where’s your stele? No answer to that, is there?”

“Simon, ignore them. Continue.” Izzy was mortified enough by the situation, she didn’t want to deal with any more drama. 

“You guys were already pretty drunk, so I’m not sure you cared. But Izzy, you don’t remember that?”

“Not at all. How much did we drink?” Isabelle looked around, suddenly realizing that Alec was missing. “Where is my brother?”

“Welcome to the conversation Iz. A little slow today, aren’t you?” Jace combed his hand through his hair. “That’s literally why we all came in here, remember?”

“Guys, focus…” Clary warned, sensing more bickering. “Has anyone tried calling him?”

 

Silence.

 

“Alright guys, get out your phones then, and Jace- you call Alec. Maybe he just stepped out for coffee or something.” She clapped her hands together, like signaling a break for a sports game. 

The five of them swept through the apartment, searching for their phones. Clary’s was in the bottom of the bathtub, completely useless. Simon’s was in a jar of tomato sauce, next to a bottle of vodka, a poor attempt at a bloody mary.

In the midst of the search, everyone stopped dead in their tracks when  Izzy finally realized that she dyed her hair.

"Oh. My. God. I'm BLONDE!" The wail echoed through the apartment.

A few minutes after the scream was heard, Izzy emerged from the bathroom overly calm to announce that her phone was dead, and since she was the only one with an iPhone, nobody had a charger. 

“Thank the angel.” Jace whispered as he found his phone, safely in the pocket of his vest. It seemed unharmed, and pressing a button confirmed that it still had a charge. He hit ‘1’ on speed dial, listening as the tones called his parabatai’s number. A weight lifted off his shoulders when he heard the call pick up.

Alexander Gideon Lightwood’s phone.” A familiar voice sang. “He can’t come to the phone right now, can I take a message?”

“Magnus, where is Alec?”

“Isn’t he with you?” Magnus paused. “ Oh now this is interesting…”

“No it isn’t interesting-- he’s missing. And judging by the fact that you have his phone, I think I have a good idea of where he is.”

“As much as I would love to wake up with that archer in my bed-”

“Watch it-” Jace warned.

“He’s not here. He stopped by--” Stopping for a second, he wondered to himself if Alec had been in his apartment. He made a mental note to do an energy sweep for traces of the shadowhunter. Jace thought the pause was suspicious. “... by Pandemonium last night. You all did. I have his phone because he left it on a table.”

“Why don’t I trust that answer?”

“It’s not hard to verify mon petit oiseau. Feel free to come check my loft. I can even bring one of the seelies who was at the club last night to verify. Seelies can’t lie after all.”

“That’s not really in the cards for us right now. We’re a bit… far away I think.” Jace walked toward the windows, scanning the unfamiliar skyline. “Actually maybe you have an answer to that. Did we mention anything to you about where we were going after Pandemonium?”

“In all honesty? No. There’s a bit of a hole in my own memory. I would track you, but I’ll have to go by the Institute and grab something of yours. With all the preparations for the wedding and all of the ambassadors from the Clave there, I doubt they’ll be keen on letting me in…”

“But you have Alec’s phone, can you at least track him?”

“Of course I can. I’ll text you what I find. And, Wayland- it’s foolish to ask a favor of a warlock that you can easily accomplish with your own smartphone.” There was a click as Magnus hung up. 

He was right, Jace had been foolish. Cursing himself under his breath, Jace opened up the maps app on his phone. After a few seconds the location pin reoriented, revealing where this bachelor party from hell had ended up.

 

Toronto.


 

“TORONTO?!” Simon yelled. “I don’t even have a passport.” He was pacing. “I’m an illegal immigrant. I’ve broken the law, I'm am international criminal. I--”

“Does he ever shut up?” Lydia groaned, already tired of Simon. “Use common sense. None of us have our passports. Toronto is at least eight hours away by car. Clary texted me around midnight, by the time I met up with her it was nearly 1 am. There’s no way we drove here.”

“Maybe we flew here.” Izzy scrunched her face in thought. She twirled a lock of platinum hair around her finger. “If we took a private plane maybe we somehow got by without passports?”

“I would know if we flew.” Clary sighed. “I might be of nephilim blood, but I have sensitive sinuses. The pressure makes my ears feel funny for a day or two after. I might have a hangover headache, but I wasn’t on a plane.”

“So are we going to just trust that?” Lydia gestured toward Clary. “The only other option would be portalling, but that would mean that there is a warlock who we ran into who’s been here before. Or at least to Toronto…”

Jace’s phone rang, cutting her off. It was Magnus.

“Magnus, did you find him?” 

“Ah… yes.”

“That’s great news! Where is he?” 

“You’re not going to like it… He’s in Toronto. It’s hard to place him exactly given the distance, but I have the approximate block and street.”

“Actually, that’s great news! We’re in Toronto as well. We have no idea how we got here, but-”

“Wait. You’re all in Toronto? Where exactly are you?”

“We’re in some huge fancy apartment, or a hotel room or something. Looks like a penthouse. My phone wouldn’t settle on an exact address for some reason, but the area is somewhere near Bay Street.”

“This is exactly what I feared. I know how you got there. Warlocks can only portal somewhere we’ve been-- and you’re somewhere I’ve been to often. It’s one of my apartments. The time I blacked out last night, I must’ve-”

The phone call cut out just as a rush of air blew behind Jace. Magnus was there, dressed a bit more casually than normal-- a pair of black skinny jeans paired with an oversized black button down shirt and a black leather jacket. Jace’s eyes went wide.

“Magnus, that’s Alec’s jacket. What the hell are you doing with Alec’s jacket?” Magnus looked down, surprised. 

“And… by the looks of it, this is his shirt as well.” Magnus spoke slowly, more to himself than the group. He looked as confused as everyone else. “How unusual…” His gaze drifted on Lydia, and he shifted a bit uncomfortably. “I should point out, I have no idea how this happened. Jace’s phone call woke me up, and I didn’t take time to change before coming here. In the famous words of Beyonce, I woke up like this. ” 

Everyone still looked incredibly uncomfortable, and he realized he’d only told Jace the next detail.

“Again, to clarify, I woke up like this alone. I did a quick sweep of my apartment for energy signatures and Alexander was not there at all last night." The last time he was there was when I gave him that ultimatum. Magnus thought to himself, a bit bitterly, smiling though when he remembered how happy Alec had been to see him last night. He should probably tell everyone about their time at Pandemonium.

“Let me tell you all what I remember from last night, and hopefully if I fill in some blanks it will spark your memory and we can find Alexander. I’ll start with when you all- minus you-” He pointed to Lydia. “-walked into Pandemonium...”

 


The previous night

 

Music pulsed loudly, a sea of bodies undulating on the dancefloor as the bachelor party clambered into the night club. It had been a mutual choice to end up in Pandemonium. A haven for Downworlders, it was a natural choice for Simon. Jace, not unlike Izzy, always had a penchant for seelie women, so he was happy enough to tag along when the girls said they wanted to include Magnus in the festivities-- especially when they realized that they’d probably get free drinks. Alec, visibly tipsier than the rest of the crew, hadn’t protested, actually smiling a bit at the suggestion.

Weaving through the crowd, they made a beeline for Magnus’ usual owners table, all giggles when they happily realized he was there.

“Maggsie!” Clary squealed, Magnus cringing at the pet name. She scooted herself into the large round booth, everyone following suit. The side to Magnus’ left filled, forcing Alec to file in on the right, sitting directly next to the warlock. Their legs brushed lightly, sending shockwaves through both of them at the simple touch. Alec was too tipsy to be ashamed of the thought, but still sober enough to be reserved. 

“Hello biscuit-and-gang. I’m assuming this is the bachelor party you texted me about, Isabelle?” Magnus snapped his fingers before anyone responded, conjuring a bottle of french champagne. It was the type of bottle used to christen ships, nearly three feet tall. Another wave of his hands produced a pyramid of champagne glasses, upending the bottle and creating a small cascade. The display dazzled the group, smiling at the sparkling alcohol. Magnus swore he heard the archer giggle, and he smirked to himself. 

“Don’t let it go flat. I cry at the thought of Veuve Clicquot not being enjoyed in all its glory. Everyone grab a glass… or two… or three! It’s a party after all.” He nudged Alec, eagerly handing him a glass. When everyone’s hands were occupied with fine alcohol, Magnus raised his glass.

“A toast-- To true love!” While everyone else repeated the toast eagerly, something melancholy was shared between the warlock and the eldest shadowhunter. The bottle of champagne quickly emptied. Nobody noticed, but Alec and Magnus drank at twice the pace. The extroverts convinced Alec and Simon to dance with them, nearly pulling them onto the light-up dance floor. When Jace stood, he left something behind at the table-- an unassuming flask.

Magnus stayed behind, remaining at the table. Watching his shadowhunter reluctantly try to dance, all he wanted to do was be there teaching him how. Copious amounts of alcohol were the only thing that could make him forget that the beautiful man with hazel eyes and ebony hair would be married this time tomorrow. Wayland surely wouldn’t miss a few swigs from the flask, and judging by how tipsy he was when he arrived, Magnus was curious to see what he was drinking. 

 


 

“And that’s all I remember, unfortunately.” Magnus sat down on a chair, shooting back up when he realized he’d sat in something sticky. “It looks like I missed quite an after-party though…” His face turned into a mask of horror as he looked around his house. “Let me just clean this-”

“No!” Clary shrieked. “Who knows what kind of clues we could find based on the mess we made.”

“You mean like the fact that we found you floating in the tub on a pool float?” Simon laughed, making the redhead blush to match her hair. “But Clary has a point. Plus, I heard from that phone call-- I wasn’t snooping I promise, just, you know, vampire hearing-- that Magnus knows approximately where Alec is. There are still so many things we don’t know, and I can’t exactly leave here in the daylight, so why don’t I look around the apartment while the rest of you all go out to look for Alec.”

“For once I agree with the vampire.” Jace reluctantly admitted. “He stays to investigate while the rest of us look for Alec. Magnus, why don’t you portal Lydia back to the Institute--”

“No, I’m coming too. I want to find out what happened, why I… showed up here like this. If I may ask a favor, though, Magnus.” She chose her words gently, knowing that her relationship with the warlock was a bit uneasy. While she sincerely liked Magnus, she knew how Magnus must feel about her, and more importantly, how he felt about Alec.. Even if there was mutual respect, she still didn’t want to ask too many favors. 

“Anything, goldfinch.” She smiled lightly at the nickname. She knew from the diaries she’d read at the Idris library that it was the same pet name Magnus had used for her ancestor, Henry Branwell. 

“Could you conjure me some new clothes?” She frowned, looking down at what was once her perfect wedding gown.

“I was just about to offer. For all of you as well-- collectively, you look like a mess.” Waving his arms in an overly elaborate flourish, the dirty, cringe-worthy clothes worn by all were replaced with more appropriate attire-- albeit a bit more stylish than their normal choices. He briefly considered not changing Izzy's hair back to its normal deep brown, but decided against it. Blonde hadn't suited her anyway. It hadn’t gone unnoticed that Magnus didn’t change out of Alec’s clothes, and with a more subtle flourish, he was dressed in a normal flamboyant outfit of silk and velvet, all in rich jewel tones. 

“I took the liberty of glamoring your runes for all of you, since you don’t have your steles. While I could glamour all of us, something tells me we are going to be dabbling in some mundane affairs today, and the easiest way to navigate such scenarios is to blend in. Jace, I texted you the address to where we are going, so you can use your phone for directions. That way, we can split up. Any questions?” Magnus raised an eyebrow, fiddling with his ear cuff.

“I’ll go with Magnus.” Clary piped up.

“Samesies.” Izzy walked over, linking arms with her. “These two are much more likely to let me stop along the way to pick up a cappuccino.”

“It's settled then, I’ll go with Jace.” Lydia looked ready for battle. Magnus had magicked her hair into a version of her usual braided ponytail, but a few additional braids framed her queen-like face. She was regal, fearsome, and very much trying to stay on mission and not let her emotions get in the way.

“What are we waiting for?” Izzy called, already walking toward the door. “Let’s go find my brother.”

Clary followed after her, with Jace following next. Lydia started to follow behind, until she felt her arm tugged back by Magnus. He leaned in, whispering so quietly in her ear that even the vampire wouldn’t hear.

“I sent your dress back to your room at the Institute. It’s in perfect condition.”

The kindness of the warlock almost broke her carefully composed facade. She even smiled warmly at him, her eyes saying words she couldn’t. All she could muster was a mirror to the first words she’d heard Alec say about Magnus.

“You’re… quite magical.” Her smile faded as she rushed out the door after Jace. Magnus would have been worried about catching up with Izzy and Clary, but he’d been holding the elevator this whole time. 

They weren’t going anywhere without him.

“Keep the lair dirty for me, Simon Lewis.” 

Magnus called behind him as he walked out the door. With that, heavy shutters covered every window, allowing the vampire to emerge from the room he’d been hiding in. Despite being locked in the apartment, Simon was just happy to be included.

 

Chapter Text

“Isabelle, did you really need to give them such a complicated drink order?” Magnus held open the door for the two shadowhunter women, who were taken aback by his comment.

“Hey, it wasn't my idea! Clary started it by ordering a rosewater almond milk affogato ! I never even knew there were options like that!” Her tone was full of child-like wonder. The lid was momentarily off her drink, allowing ample access to the thick layer of whipped cream on top-- which she was not-so-subtly dipping her finger into.  

“Magnus, I thought you of all people would appreciate the finer things in coffee culture.” Clary jabbed him playfully with her skinny elbow, knocking him slightly off his path. He feigned unamusement, squaring his shoulders and holding his head high.

“These are most definitely not the finer things. If anything, it’s a bastardization of coffee. An insult to the coffee bean. It tarnishes the reputation I worked so hard to gain in the Turkish coffee houses in the 1800’s.” Magnus sheepishly sipped lightly at his hazelnut caramel cappuccino. The foam clung to his upper lip.

Izzy gawked at him like a child looks at a baby animal, completely in awe of how cute he was. She swiped her thumb over the ancient warlock’s face, Magnus mock-scowling in response. 

“Don't even pretend you're not having fun girl time with us right now.” Clary giggled, linking arms with him as he rolled his eyes.

“I can enjoy girl time while still making fun of you for getting an affogato-- coffee over vanilla gelato-- with almond milk. Why mix dairy-free and non dairy free… ?”

They walked arm-in-arm for a few seconds before Clary froze, remembering the mission. “Wait, why aren’t you more concerned about finding Alec?” Clary remembered the mission. The blatant cognitive dissonance of the situation stopped Clary in her tracks. She makes a quizzical face, her green eyes crinkling in confusion. While she had a plausible explanation for the cause, his behavior was still off-putting. “All things considered, you seem a little too calm…”

“Yeah, you don't seem particularly rushed about Alec being missing. I figured of all people, you'd be a wreck right now… There’s something we’re missing here.” Izzy grabbed him by the jacket, pulling him closer to the buildings. Despite not spending much time in the mundane world, Izzy was still aware it would be rude to have a conversation in the middle of the sidewalk. Magnus stood, back against the wall, while the girls faced him shoulder-to shoulder. Their eyes glanced sideways, exchanging a glance that said ‘ Let’s watch him sweat’.

Izzy and Clary had a mutual understanding of why they were not incredibly concerned about Alec. Both of them had reason to believe that the wedding wasn’t the right choice for him, and hopeful that, with a wrench in the plan, Alec might have some time to think about things. Izzy had indulged herself in the hopeless fantasy that maybe Alec was a runaway groom, that somewhere along the line, he and Magnus got into trouble and Alec decided that his happiness was more important than a sham wedding. But they didn’t want to convey this to Magnus, instead digging to hear his reasons for his blase attitude. 

“Magnus, if you know something about Alec is you need to tell us, he could be in danger or-” Clary crossed her arms, her legs widening into a passive fighting stance. Although she was trying her best to look serious, she still came off as a mundane dressed as a shadowhunter for Halloween.

He cut her off, holding up a finger that had a ring both above and below the knuckle. 

“Alexander is not in danger. I’ve located him; we know where he is. There isn’t even any demon activity in Toronto right now.” Neither of the girls seemed impressed nor appeased by that statement. “Alright, I’ve clearly been caught. I wasn't being exactly forthcoming when I was talking to you earlier about your visit to Pandemonium…”

“So what you're saying is…” Clary cocked her head to the side.

“I'm saying that perhaps I know more than I let on…”

“And that something is making you….” Isabelle narrowed her eyes, searching for clues in the warlock’s body language. His actions were a dead giveaway. 

Magnus fidgeted, rotating the rings on his fingers and twisting at his earring. His eyes darted about, avoiding the knowing glare of Isabelle Lightwood. 

“Oh.” She pieced together all of his hints with all of the details she’d observed, the gears in her head slowly clicking into place. “ Ohhhh... I see.” She beamed, clearly proud of her powers of deduction. As if she was in on a secret Magnus couldn’t know about, she directed her words to Clary. “Whatever Magnus isn't telling us might make things awkward with him and Alec.” Her taunts stalked Magnus; with each word, the lioness stepped closer to its prey. “I wonder what would make the always-confident Magnus Bane avoidant…..”

Clary smirked, knowing that she and Isabelle were winning. Magnus was on trial, cornered, and no match for the two girls.

“Oh he's definitely avoiding him. It makes so much sense now. And this breakfast?” Clary held up a croissant with her hand that wasn’t occupied with a coffee. “Definitely a stalling tactic.  I mean he could've conjured us coffee, but instead he walked us three blocks out of the way...”

“I have no idea what you're talking about.” He tried to continue walking down the street, only for Izzy to step directly in his path. 

“Things can easily get awkward when alcohol and feelings mix.” Izzy’s painted fuchsia lips pulled into a smirk. Magnus raised an eyebrow, but Izzy shot down any possible remark he could have.  “You haven't been exactly subtle about how you feel about him… and you kinda showed up in his clothes this morning.”

“I wasn't lying when I said I have no idea about how that happened. I also wasn't lying when I said I don't remember a large portion of last night.”

“I can't believe we drank so much that even Magnus Bane blacked out.” Clary shook her head, strawberry curls bouncing in the late morning breeze. 

“I'm actually impressed.” Izzy shrugged. Remembering her hangover, she took a much-needed sip of coffee.

“That is rather curious, actually. There have only been  a few times in the past three centuries--”

“No way. You're not getting off that easily. I see you changing the subject. What is the last thing you remember?”

“Alright. You caught me. I’ll spill. After you all left the table and went to the dance floor, I stayed behind...”

  


 

Last Night

 

Alec was gone-- at least that is how it looked to Magnus. Not physically gone. He wasn’t missing yet. But he was somewhere else, floating above his normally icy exterior-- the weight of the responsibilities of the honorable older brother melting away. 

Seeing the slender, fit archer on the dance floor was multifaceted torture. The alcohol was in full effect-- the Alexander he knew would be far too serious to move his body so liberally. A black dress shirt clung to his sweaty torso, only half buttoned and exposing his toned chest. It was obvious that he wasn’t an experienced dancer, but the way he swayed to the pumping bass showed a carefree attitude that made up for it. Tendrils of wavy black hair fell onto Alec’s forehead, and he made futile attempts to push them back. 

Magnus couldn’t help but stare. He didn’t care if it was obvious; it wouldn’t have mattered to him if he left a puddle of drool on the table. It would be an absolute crime for someone not to ogle such a sexy man, and to him, Alec was the only man in the club. It was wrong how much he wanted to dance with the boy-- who would be married tomorrow-- but the cloud of alcohol started to roll in, stealing away that last bit of restraint the warlock had. He haphazardly tossed back the last of his whiskey, a few drops falling onto his silk shirt. The dance floor was his battlefield, and he was marching into war, his only target the mesmerizing Alec Lightwood. 

He was done being coy. If there was a night to take a risk, this might be his last chance. Although, if this boy was a stranger, he might have done the same thing. He approached Alec from the side, an attempt to catch him off guard, made futile by Alec’s keen shadowhunter reflexes. Even in this inebriated state, he was still the sexy, well trained fighter; his bowstrings ready to fire at any minute. 

Alec stilled, his breath hitching in his chest, as if seeing Magnus hit the pause button on the moment. Taking this as encouragement, Magnus grabbed Alec by the waistband of his black jeans, yanking their bodies together. Magnus still prepared himself for rejection, but what happened instead was something straight out of nephilim heaven. At the firm contact, their breath released in unison and they melted together. Alec threw Magnus a heavy lidded, crooked smile-- the kind that broke the warlock into pieces. Very. Aroused. Pieces.

Hey.” Alec whispered, biting his lip to contain his boyish smile. 

“Hello, Alexander.” Magnus purred, blinking through his thick black lashes. They didn’t need more than these words, their actions said it all.  

Magnus linked his hands around Alec’s neck, ghosting his thumb along the z-shaped rune along the way. Alec rolled his head, as if feeling Magnus touching him lifted a weight from his shoulders, relaxing something in him that had been pent up longer than he could remember. His hands searched Magnus, trying to take hold of everything at once. They landed on the warlock’s swaying hip bones, Alec falling in line with the confident rhythm.

What Alec didn’t have in  experience, he made up for in eagerness. His hands were all over Magnus, touching every inch of him, occasionally sneaking underneath the fabric, teasing at the skin just below his waistband, or just through the space between buttonholes. Magnus was not drunk enough to be dreaming, but drunk enough to be in awe of what Alec was doing to him. 

They were clinging to each other with a passion, so when Alec flipped Magnus around, the brief moment of separation made him whimper. But Alec pulled the warlock’s ass in, pushing it against his groin, and Magnus easily took the hint. Rolling the length of his spine, Magnus grinded into Alec, reaching up behind him to grab at Alec’s neck. Alec traced his hands down Magnus’ sides, sliding down until his fingers rested on his thigh. His hand slid farther in, wrapping around the warlock’s inner thigh, dangerously close to the thing that Magnus wanted him to touch the most.

A thought occurred to Magnus, that perhaps Alec was just caught up in the moment, that this was just dancing, nothing else. That thought was wiped away when he felt Alec’s hint of stubble graze against his neck, nuzzling in and placing a shy kiss there, just below his ear. It was so subtle that to an outsider, it might look like he was just whispering something, but it was so much more. It felt like a tiny secret that only they would share.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. From a few feet away, a bubbly, loud voice called to them.

“AWWWW!!! GUYS LOOK AT MALEC- I MEAN ALEC AND MAGNUS!!!”

“Ew Izzy, I didn’t need to see that.” Jace mocks, jokingly covering his eyes.

Alec flipped Magnus back around, so they were facing.

“Hey, wanna go get some air?” Alec flashed another one of those smiles that Magnus couldn’t resist, and before Magnus even answered, their hands were linked and Magnus was being pulled toward the alleyway exit to his own club. 

They clambered through the crowd, making a beeline for the back service door. Thankfully, the shadowhunter’s coordination wasn’t completely hindered by the alcohol, else he would’ve been tripping over the three stairs down to the pavement. Instead, Alec had a rare moment of cheekiness, hopping on the railing and sliding down. Magnus wasn’t going to let Alec show him up, so he followed along in a haze of giggles.

Alec caught him at the bottom of the short railing, lifting up Magnus by the waist and placing him down softly. Grabbing hands, they tumbled around to lean against the brick wall. Finally away from prying eyes, they both let out a sigh; the rush from sneaking away like high-schoolers filled their bodies with a crackling potential energy.

“It feels so good to be away from all of that for a bit.” His smile didn’t fade as he spoke, his normally stern countenance was unarguably giddy. 

“Don’t get me wrong, Alexander. As lovely as it is to see you move in such novel ways… It’s always nice to take a breather--” Before he could continue to make nervous, tipsy small-talk, he was cut off by Alec; not by his words, but by his peculiar actions.

The tall, dark shadowhunter lifted open his jacket, his fingers surprisingly deft for someone who had so much to drink. As he whipped out a pack of cigarettes and a utilitarian lighter, it was clear that this was a habit; practiced, automatic, natural. 

This simple action had no right to be this sexy, but the archer had a way of making Magnus weak in the knees from even the most innocent motions. Alec flipped open the pack, gracefully sliding out a cig and holding it in his lips. Magnus stared in awe, watching Alec turn the spark of the lighter and dip the tip of the cigarette into the flame. Alec’s hazel eyes drifted shut with the first inhale of the tobacco smoke spinning in tiny clouds on the exhale. His hand drifted down, freeing his mouth to speak. Magnus was so mesmerized, he barely heard Alec ask him a question.

“You want one?” Alec slid one out of the box halfway, nudging it in Magnus’ direction. The warlock accepted the invitation, plucking it out and cradling it between his ornamented fingers. He could easily light it himself, but something about the moment felt so innocent, so mundane, that he let it play out naturally. 

“Got a light?” He raised an eyebrow, a clear flirtation. What Alec did next made his heart stop.

The shadowhunter smirked, putting his lit cigarette back in his mouth. He guided Magnus’ hand, making him perch his unlit one between his lips. Leaning down, he connected the tips. They stood still for what felt like an eternity, waiting for the cigarette to light as it was held in the flame. Magnus had no idea where Alec Lightwood learned how to do that, but he was incredibly thankful. 

When the cigarette caught the light, Alec backed away, but only by a few inches. They shared a breath, staring into each other’s eyes as they took a shy drag. The gestures said more than words could, carrying an unexpected intimacy. 

As they settled back against the wall, Alec rested his arm around Magnus, pulling him tight.

 


 

Present

 

“And that, truthfully, is the last thing I remember.”

“Are you sure you're not just leaving out the juicy details because he's my brother?” 

“Isabelle, if there were any juicier details I wouldn't be able to refrain from shouting it from the rooftops that I stole the innocence of the honorable shadowhunter Alexander Gideon Lightwood.”

There was a brief pause while Isabelle and Clary shared knowing eye contact. Magnus felt left out of this. A musical laugh from the ginger broke the silence. 

“What if he did steal Alec's innocence.” She giggled.

“By the angel, what if he did? And neither of them remember.” 

Clary covered her mouth to stop from spitting out coffee. 

“Well, maybe Alec would remember… there's no way he got as drunk as the rest of us…” Clary mused. 

Magnus flushed, his brain spinning off thoughts in myriad directions. Things were starting to add up, a pile of evidence in support of the girls’ claims mounting. Dancing with the irresistible Alec, sneaking outside the club with Alec, waking up in Alec’s clothes. Faced with this newfound possibility, he had to see him. 

“I think I just found that motivation I was missing to find Alec. Suddenly I feel a bit more of a… push.” He whipped his jacket as he turned on his heel, nearly skipping away. A distinctive swagger in his step, his hips swayed-- a dancer among a sidewalk of commuters. He was on a mission, behind schedule, and he could not be stopped. Clary and Izzy were nearly left in a cloud of glitter dust, speed-walking just to catch up.  

 

Chapter Text

For most of their journey to the designated location, Jace and Lydia walk in silence. They don't have much to say. From the moment she came to the institute, she didn't trust him; the fact that he was allegedly Valentine's son was a nonstarter.

The closer they get, the more Jace starts to notice that maybe there's more behind Lydia's silence. 

"Hey, Lyd…" she turned to face him, raising an eyebrow at his attempt at a nickname. "You haven't eaten anything all morning. Want to grab a coffee or something on the way." 

"We should focus on finding Alec. What if he's in danger?” Lydia tried to brush off Jace’s intentional distraction.

“He's fine, I’d be able to sense it through our parabatai bond if he wasn't. Come on.”  He clapped her on the shoulder, but she moved away from his touch. “There's a cafe across the street, you can spare a minute.”

“Fine, but we will only grab something and eat on the way.” They cross the street quickly, ducking into the tiny coffee shop across the street ‘ Cafe du Chat’ . The cafe was cozy, warmly-lit, and full of cats. Growing up in Idris, Lydia had never been to a mundane coffee shop, so it struck her as a bit odd for it to be the habitat for a significant number of animals. Lydia and Jace were out of their depth, and to make matters worse Jace had the sudden realization that this food will cost mundane money. Looking around uncomfortably, he's saved by Lydia, who pulls out a small wad of cash.

"I had this tucked away on me when I woke up this morning. I forgot I'd brought mundane money for the restaurant Clary claimed we were meeting at. I think most places in Toronto will take American money, there’s just some form of surcharge."

"Whoa, back up. Claimed? I thought you said that’s what happened, at least that’s what you told everyone. What ended up happening instead?” They attempted to approach the counter, but a formidable orange cat darted between Jace’s legs. He tried his best to ignore it and continue the conversation.  “Do you remember what we were up to when you met up with us?" While he was full of curiosity about the potentially fun details she withheld, a familiar defensiveness surged at the thought that she would have left out details to help them find his parabatai. His muscles relaxed when he realized that, as his fiancee, Lydia would want to find Alec just as much as he did. 

She clenched her jaw; he'd clearly hit a nerve. Until this point, she hoped that nobody would ask her. She was, after all, the random addition. She hadn’t been initially invited. The spotlight wasn't on her. But she didn't dodge attention well enough, and now she was facing the consequences. Thankfully, it was their turn in line to order drinks, so she ignored him, instead making an attempt at a normal mundane coffee order. She went for the safest choice: plain coffee, and a blueberry muffin. Faced with a variety of choices, most with cat-themed names, Jace chose the most complicated drink he could find. It was partially a stalling tactic, partially out of sincere curiosity. The wait was going to be at least five minutes for drinks, and after one minute of silence-- only punctuated by various cat sounds-- she gave into Jace’s pestering.

"I was hoping nobody would ask me that question. She claimed we were meeting there to eat, but you all had already eaten. Is that enough information?" It wasn’t enough to satisfy him, conveyed by the pregnant pause. “I don’t want to discuss it.” They were waiting at the counter for their drinks to be prepared, and momentarily losing her composure, she leaned on the counter and lowered her head to her hands. A small white kitten jumped from above, seemingly out of thin air, and landed on her lowered shoulders. Sensing her discomfort, it nuzzled at her blonde hair, ambling awkwardly as it mewed directly into her ear.

"Oh come on, it can't be that bad!” He lightened his tone, trying to disarm the safe that was hiding precious details from the night before. He gingerly lifted the kitten, giving its head a gentle rub before placing it onto a nearby table.  “Plus, when you met up with us, we were the trashed ones, you were still sober at that point! If anyone should be embarrassed it’s probably me. I've been known to make a real drunken jackass of myself once or twice…”

“It was just… not what I expected.” She lifted her head, her eyes going a bit distant.  “But at the same time, it was everything I expected.”

“Oh perfect, that’s cleared up for me now. Definitely wasn't the most vague answer in the world.” He pursed his lips, joking with her. A long-haired grey cat had been clawing at the leg of his jeans, the claws itching at his skin. Mostly to calm the discomfort, he picked up the cat, cradling it like a baby. This was not what the cat wanted, twisting its body in unnatural formations as it snarled. He released the cat, taking a few steps back. Lydia still hadn’t returned his jest, instead letting out a long, forlorn sigh. 

Their drinks were ready, so swiping them up, she walked over to a pink armchair, sinking into it as an act of surrender. This conversation was unavoidable, and it would be preferable to have it now in front of Jace as opposed to later when other parties were around. Jace raised an eyebrow, taking a seat on the worn couch next to her.

“I'll tell you, I just couldn't say it around the others. " Jace's interest piqued " I don't remember much, but I'll tell you what I can…”

 


 

Last Night

 

Lydia was skeptical about the whole situation. 

Something here isn’t adding up . She thought as she stood in front of the neon-lit Thai restaurant. It was in a secluded part of TriBeCa, an area most of the New York Institute wouldn’t be familiar with, let alone someone who primarily lived in Idris. The shadowhunter in her worried that this could be a trap, rereading Clary’s text before going in.

 

11:58 PM

Lydia. There’s an urgent situation at a Thai restaurant. We are undercover, be prepared to eat dinner.

 

Pasted below that message was the random address,  which Lydia had made her way to with little hesitation. Always focused on mission, duty, responsibility, the possibility that this was perhaps a ruse never occurred to her, not until she was staring it in the face. Before she had a chance to question it too much, a very effervescent Clary Fairchild lumbered out of the restaurant doors, all smiles as she pulled Lydia into a firm hug. 

“Lydiaaaa! You made it! I didn’t think you’d come.”

“Clary, you said this was a serious situation….” Judging by the heavy scent of alcohol wafting off of her, Lydia was now sure this was a lie.

“It is sserious!” Words slurred together slightly. “If Alec gets a party, YOU deserve to party too!” Clary pulled out of the hug, poking the blonde with her skinny, pale finger to drill home the point. She glowered, shaming Lydia for not being excited at the prospect of a night out.

“I’m going back to the Institute, this is ridiculous. I have a wedding to be ready for tomorrow.” She turned away, but this was unacceptable to Clary, who yanked the acting head of the Institute by the arm. This was a blatant breach of protocol. Lydia spun around, faced with another glare from the stubborn redhead. 

“No way. Not an option. You’re going to come in, eat noodles, and drink beer. It is settled. I already decided.” There was no reasoning with her, and Lydia was a bit hungry, so she let the amateur shadowhunter drag her into the dodgy establishment.

The group was huddled into a too-small booth, resorting to sitting in each other’s laps to make more space. A small hole in the circle was Clary’s apparent seat, but she was determined to make more room for Lydia, pushing all her weight into Simon. He slid into Izzy’s lap to make space where there was none. 

“Simon!” Clary yelled as she continued to push him.“Scoot your vampire tuckus over. You don’t even eat, Lydia does. She needs spring rolls right now. And beer. STAT!”

Magnus raised his hand, beckoning over a waiter. He rattled off something in what everyone assumed was Thai, the small older woman grinning wide to retrieve his order. 

“Yeah, Simon.” Jace guzzled the remainder of his beer. “Plus, even if you weren’t undead. ” Jace taunted, cut off by a hiccup. Lydia was looking around the room, eyes wide in alarm at how loudly they all were discussing downworld issues. The other patrons either didn’t hear them or were unphased. “Even if you weren’t a vampire, shrimp aren’t kosher! You couldn’t eat shrimp pad thai. It’s unclean. ” He popped a shrimp into his mouth, laughing at his own joke as he chewed. 

A few seats down, Jace’s parabatai was hit with sudden confusion. 

“Jace, how do you know about kosher laws?” Alec knit his brow, but Izzy cut in, coming to Jace’s defense. 

“Umm, brother… I thought you were smarter than this. We are nephilim. We study the Bible for years at the academy. By the Angel, the parabatai oath is a scripture adapted from the book of Ruth."

Alec rolled his eyes dramatically, groaning at his little sister. Jace stifled a giggle, picking up someone else’s beer from the table. He needed something to sip on while he watched Alec flounder. For once, his know-it-all parabatai  didn’t know everything. 

“Iz, those are mostly fables. You know that. I didn’t waste my time paying attention--”

“Yes, instead you spent your time gawking at all the boys in fight class.” Jace raised his eyebrows, exchanging a knowing look at Izzy as they clinked tiny beer bottles.

Nobody, save Clary and Magnus had noticed Lydia’s arrival. All the banter went on around her, but she was undetected. It stung, hearing how openly everyone was discussing Alec’s sexuality. She wasn’t dense, she knew he was gay; she even had an inkling before she knew him, hearing the rumors in Idris of how he’d never been seen with a woman. When she saw him with Magnus for the first time, it all became crystal clear. But even though this marriage was an arrangement of honor, stability, and political alliance, it still hurt a bit to think that neither she nor Alec would never be truly happy or fulfilled. 

Seeing Alec there, drunk and carefree, his arm around the inebriated warlock sitting in his lap, it brought her close to death by a thousand cuts. Even once they were married, she would turn a blind eye, letting Alec see Magnus. She couldn't deny him that. She already had her chance at love, her first marriage, and she settled with the fact that she would never have that again. It still pained her though, seeing them like this. 

It hurt worse when Magnus beamed, handing her a bottle of beer from an obscure Asian brand, just as the waitress put down a plate of spring rolls. He was so sincere, kind, caring, but he had no idea how much she envied him right now. The majority of the table didn’t even notice her, but Magnus went out of his way to make her feel involved, valued, and most importantly--  to make sure she was enjoying the food. 

“Darling, you must try this.” He dipped it in peanut sauce, cupping his hand below as he reached across the table to keep it from dripping. When he held the spring roll to her mouth, encouraging her to take a bite, she politely snubbed the gesture, plucking the spring roll from his hands. 

Clary was trying to hold some kind of conversation with her, but she didn’t pay attention, keeping her head down and eating in silence. Maybe if she was still enough, quiet enough, she would melt into the scenery, becoming one of the faded lotus flowers on the aging wallpaper. Trying to eat noodles with chopsticks was ample distraction, and she busied herself trying to get the slippery Khanom Jeen -- that’s what Magnus had called it-- successfully from the bowl to her mouth. Loud voices, punctuated with various exclamations, expletives, and vague squeals emphasized how sober she was in relation to her ambivalent companions. 

Some conversations proved too difficult to ignore, so when Magnus and Simon started vehemently arguing about Lady and the Tramp , Lydia tuned back in. She wasn’t very familiar with mundane childhood movies, but she had watched this one once while her parents were on an undercover mission in California. It was something about dogs, love, societal schisms… It was all a bit cloudy.

This was not the case for the drunken group, primarily Clary, Simon and Magnus, as they were able to recount every detail.

“This is so unfair!” Simon screamed. “Clary and I used to be able to re-enact the spaghetti scene perfectly but now I can’t eat!” He slammed his hands on the table too heavily, toppling a few empty beer bottles in the process.

“Well, then there’s only one possible winner in this case, and it’s going to be me.” Magnus giggled, locking eyes with Clary. “Alright, Fray-- in a completely platonic manner, we are going to put the rest of these orang bodoh to shame.” He put one end of a noodle in his mouth, sliding it through his fingers to find the end before passing it to Clary. She leaned forward, the noodle length a bit too short to reach across the table. Making matters even more difficult, neither of the pair was tall enough for their torsos to reach across the table, making it impossible to meet in the middle.

Magnus tried again, finding a longer noodle, sliding off of Alec so that he was standing on his knees in the bench, providing more leverage. 

“Don’t worry Mags! I believe in us! You’re the High Warlock of Brooklyn, you can do anything!” Clary mimicked his new posture, sticking out her butt and nearly toppling out of the seat in the process; a bit too drunk to match his poised perch. 

They tried again, another epic failure, this time the noodle ripping in half and falling to their chests, leaving a trail of curry sauce. Magnus sank down, sulking. Alec snaked his arms around the warlock’s waist and pulled him back to his lap. 

Clary and Magnus started to sob, an appropriate reaction considering the dramatic extent of their drunkenness. Lydia tensed. She wasn’t used to such flagrant displays of emotion, and everything she knew told her that this was not a standard emotional response. Clary linked their arms together in a makeshift side hug, begging for some kind of comfort. The only gesture Lydia could muster was a light pat on the head with her free hand. 

“Clary, you’re wrong-- I can’t do anything.” Magnus whined. “We aren’t in Brooklyn, this is Manhattan . I mean nothing  here.” A tear trickled down his cheek, leaving a trail of smeared eyeliner in its wake. They were painfully sloppy.

“Hey, that’s nonsense. You’re always magical.” Alec whispered, but in his state of intoxication, it was still loud enough for the whole table to hear. He grabbed Magnus’ chin in his hand, tilting it so that they were sitting nose- to nose. “If you want to re-enact this silly mundane movie, then that’s what you’re getting, because you deserve it.”

Alec fumbled to grab an oily noodle, his long fingers impeded by his inebriation. After a few failed attempts, he held a complete noodle, suitably lengthy enough to rise to its purpose.  Magnus puckered his lips, Alec raising one end of the noodle to them. He matched the gesture, squeezing his lips around the other end. Giggling with closed mouths, they slurped the single noodle until they met in the middle. A sudden yet intimate act of affection followed, as they bit off the noodle, swallowing  it before sinking into a kiss. The level of familiarity in the gesture was overwhelming.

Magnus raked his fingers through Alec’s wavy locks, pulling their bodies together with an unbreakable force. A shiver ran through Lydia as the two men sank deeper into each other’s bodies, tongues sloppily reaching and exploring their mouths. 

The table erupted into a chorus of wolf-whistles, taunts of disgust, and coos of admiration. Magnus untangled one hand from Alec’s shirt, refusing to break the kiss as he raised a navy manicured middle finger.

Lydia flushed, the blood rushing from her head and sending her mostly-sober head spinning. Her hands felt clammy when she pushed them against the table to stand up, making her escape in a beeline toward the bathroom.

The bathroom was behind a snaking hall, and her knowledge of blueprints told Lydia that it wrapped around the kitchen. This distance was a blessing, providing her the exit she needed while avoiding the scene that could be caused by storming out of the establishment altogether. She bent over the sink, sucking in deep breaths and trying to calm herself.

 

What am I doing. This is wrong. I wanted this wedding, it was good. But I can’t feel this way forever…

 

She turned on the faucet, cupping cold water to her hands and splashing it to her face. It didn’t matter if this smeared her makeup.

 

It’s not like anyone would notice anyways.

 

With water dripping down, she barely noticed the quiet tears that followed. She didn’t know how long she stood like this, sinking her full weight against the porcelain. Not accustomed to drinking, the two beers she had were making her emotions more volatile, and she wasn’t prepared to handle them.

When the bathroom door swung open, she was embarrassed, preparing some excuse or apology to the stranger she was bothering with her momentary lack of composure. For a shadowhunter, this type of display was unacceptable, and she hated how she was in that moment. 

But instead of an uncomfortable stranger bursting in, it was Clary Fairchild, who locked the door behind her.  Her green eyes were apologetic, understanding, and kind. For a few minutes, she didn’t say anything, instead wrapping her arms around Lydia and letting her stand at the sink. Her hand rubbed light circles on Lydia’s back, a comforting gesture that was foreign to the blonde shadowhunter. The tears slowed, and Lydia switched off the faucet. She finally raised her head, cringing at the thought that someone else was seeing her this way.

Instead of passing judgement, Clary reached over to grab a paper towel, gingerly tapping it under Lydia’s blue opal eyes to mitigate the aftermath of bleeding mascara. Her sad smile made Lydia feel safe, and in that moment, Lydia let herself be vulnerable. 

It was Clary who broke the silence, her voice a light gossamer veil that made everything seem less tragic. 

Hey there. ” She tucked fugitive lock of golden hair from Lydia’s forehead, fallen out of her face-framing side braid. “You don’t have to say anything, but I can tell how hard that was for you.”

Her sympathetic gaze brought back the details of their conversation earlier that day about how she was marrying Alec for honor, despite his feelings for Magnus. To Clary’s surprise though, Lydia responded, the strong doors around her emotions cracked open. 

“It’s… one thing to know. To know how Alec feels about someone else. But… it’s another to see it, to see... just how happy he could be.” Her breaths were calculated and well placed, the result of years of practice in emotional regulation. This time, however, it wasn’t enough.

“I have no idea how hard that must be for you, to have feelings for Alec and-” Lydia cut her off.

“No, it’s not like that with Alec and I. I don’t… feel those types of things for him. I don’t know if I could ever feel that way  for someone after what happened… before.” Lydia cast her eyes down. She couldn’t allow herself to think about the death of her one true love, John Montaverde. This night was already dark enough without thinking of his murder at the Lisbon Institute. Regardless, it was important to emphasize how her relationship with Alec wasn’t romantic. If she explained this detail, at least it would be clear that she wasn’t being played for a total fool. 

“But it still can’t be easy.” Clary had an inkling of how Lydia must feel; that sinking feeling that she would always be alone. Clary felt it too. She had been falling in love with Jace, feeling things she never thought were possible, but when it turned out he was her brother, everything around her shattered. Seeing Magnus and Alec so happy struck a sour cord with her too, like it all wasn’t fair. 

They were carefully maneuvering a minefield, trying to talk about Alec without digging up any of these uncomfortable details. Even though Clary was tipsy, she picked up these cues impressively. In a cautious agreement, they continued forward. 

“They way they look at each other,” Lydia sighed. It was hard for her to admit this next part to herself, let alone to Clary. “...it’s more than just shallow feelings. It looks like…” 

Clary stepped in, helping her finish the difficult statement. 

“Like they’re falling in love, I see it too.” Clary pressed her lips into a line. 

“And I don’t have that, I won’t have that.” Her voice grew darker, a more distant sadness bubbling to the surface.  “Nobody looks at me, especially not Alec. It’s like I’m not even here right now.”

“Don’t you dare say things like that! You are beautiful, smart, confident. You are a badass . You don’t need to settle for a man who’s gay, just because it’s the honorable shadowhunter thing to do.” Grabbing Lydia by the shoulders, she continued the rant with the passion only attainable by a painfully drunk girl. “You are perfection!” She shook the blonde hard enough for her head to jolt. “Look at those perfect blue eyes. It’s like a tropical ocean on your face! Artists would kill to paint that!”

Lydia was frozen in place. She was trapped in the clutches of a girl on a mission, but Lydia had no clue what that mission was, or how she was supposed to respond. 

“But seeing the way they kissed, not even my husband, who loved me, kissed me like that… so passionate. Nobody would feel that way about me again--”

“If you keep talking nonsense like that, I’m going to throw you out this tiny bathroom window! Anybody would be LUCKY AS HELL to kiss you, and if they didn’t kiss you like the sex goddess you are, then they should go to LOVE JAIL!”

Lydia had never been hyped up in that way before, nobody ever said such nice things about her superficial appearance. There were plenty of compliments on her ability to lead, her responsibility, her prowess on the battlefield. Being called pretty caused a new type of confidence to surge through her. It was so pure that she almost started crying again.

“Thank you so much, Clary Fairchild. I think I needed to hear that.”

“Well you deserve to hear that.” Clary turned her head to speak as she unlocked the door. “Now come back with me, eat some more delicious food, and let loose like the confident angelic woman you are.” 

They tumbled out the door, Clary lurching forward as she tripped over her own high heels. Lydia’s shadowhunter instincts kicked in, swooping forward to catch the frail redhead before she fell. 

“Thank the angel one of us has had years of training.” Lydia and Clary giggled, but Clary’s face took on a new expression that was much more serious. Their chests were pressed together. Lydia had swiped Clary up, and now she was pressed to the wall clutching Clary around the waist. It was an unfamiliar reflex, but Lydia’s breath hitched, her heart beating fast feeling trapped in her throat. 

“You might have had years of training at the academy, but there are some things that I’ve had many more  years of training in.” Clary searched Lydia’s face for the hint of motivation  and invitation she needed, green eyes darting to the other girl’s lips. They shared a shy breath, an unspoken invitation accepted, waiting to be sealed.

Clary closed the distance between them, raising her hands to Lydia’s full cheeks as they leaned into a tentative, delicate kiss. On their own volition, Lydia’s hands were wrapping posessively around the smaller girl, pressing every inch of their bodies into a firm embrace. Their kisses became more confident, and to Clary’s surprise, an emboldened tongue was prodding for entrance, tracing the outline of her lips and smearing what remained of her lipstick. 

Lydia felt hands grasping at her hair, pulling her in with a hunger to match her own. Confident kisses were replaced a  faster, sloppier, needier liplock, tongues exploring, occasionally grazed by a delicate nip of their teeth. It was foreign, but already addictive; the pillowy lips pressed against hers were akin to sweet clouds lightly flavored with a hint of strawberry. They were in a pocket if intimacy separate from the rest of the restaurant, separate than the concept of thought or time itself. To the girls, there was nothing else, just this passionate, stolen kiss that they were sharing. 

They weren’t separate from the rest of the restaurant however-- they were standing in the dark hallway in front of the bathrooms, and after hours full of beer and liquor, Jace Wayland was bound to make his journey down the convoluted hall to evacuate his bladder at some point. Unfortunately for Clary and Lydia, that moment collided with their spontaneous tryst.

Whoa.” Jace sauntered backwards. His reaction was more akin to someone who had just seen a UFO: completely in awe of something that he hadn’t even considered to be a possibility. “I.. uh.. Didn’t mean to interrupt…” Despite being wasted, he made an attempt to choose his words carefully. “I mean like… holy shit… Sorry that was… I just need to squeeze past you and go to…” He made a vague gesture to the men’s room, pushing past and walking as fast as possible. 

The intrusion broke the two women apart, gasping for air. It hit them what they’d been doing, and neither could form a response, opting to walk back to the table, separated by a few strides.

Clary scooted to the opposite side of the booth, pushed against Alec, not that he noticed. Lydia sat next to Simon, which left her in an unfortunate situation when Jace returned. Too drunk to care, he tossed himself into Lydia’s lap linking his arms around her neck, providing just the right angle to whisper in her ear.

“Hey, I get it. She’s gorgeous, Alec’s with Magnus-- I don’t blame you.” 

Lydia gulped uncomfortably. She didn’t want to talk about this. She prayed a blanket statement of discomfort would get him off her case. 

“This is just a lot for me to handle.” She spoke through clenched teeth.

“Don’t worry, I got you. A stiff drink fixes any problem.” Jace dug the large flask from his jacket pocket and unscrewing the cap. 

Normally, Lydia would refuse, but given this strange situation she was thrust into, she reluctantly accepted the offer, wrapping her lips around the opening, chugging back a few generous sips. A tiny bead of alcohol dribbled from her mouth, and she rubbed it off with the back of her hand.

“Feeling better already.” She sighed, and resigned herself to turn all of her attention back to the impressive variety of noodles, still elusive to her meager chopstick expertise. 

 


Present

“And that’s where it ends for me. I don’t remember anything after that. It was the first time I tried hard liquor, and it was clearly not in good judgement.”

Jace’s eyes were wide in disbelief; a mixture of shock and amusement. Last night’s version of Lydia was right: this was a lot to handle. He didn’t know what was more intriguing-- the way Magnus and Alec were participating in unashamed PDA, or the fact that he doesn’t remember walking in on Clary and Lydia having a sexual awakening outside of a shady bathroom. So engrossed in the conversation, he’d forgotten where they were, and as he shifted his weight, he realized that no less than four cats had settled in around him. 

Curled on Lydia’s lap was a tortoiseshell cat, deep in a trance induced by Lydia’s mindless petting. Lydia was waiting for Jace to respond. It was hard to judge his genuine feelings about the situation through the mask of shock. 

“So… are you going to say anything, or should we get up and get back on mission?” She lifted up the fluffy animal, placing it back on the ground. 

“It’s just… wow.” Jace was still flabbergasted, but Lydia was done with the conversation, rolling her eyes. 

Instead of giving herself time to regret telling Jace everything, she threw away her trash and walked out the door. Jace wiggled away from his feline posse, leaving his dishes behind and darting after Lydia.

The next four blocks of their walk was in painfully awkward silence. 


Chapter Text

What the hell…

Alec stirred, his body recoiling from its own motion. Every muscle was stiff from the odd shape he was contorted into, propped up against a wall. It was a struggle to open his eyes, both physically and emotionally. Opening his eyes would cement the fact he was awake, which would force him to confront a few burning questions. Where he was, why he was there, why he didn’t remember anything-- he didn’t have any of the answers, and finding them would take considerable amounts of effort. Effort he couldn’t muster up right now. 

Normally, he was so responsible, calculated-- he never would be in a strange situation in the first place. But his mind was so cloudy that it barely occurred to him that he should care at all. Something was nagging him though. It was a noise-- no a voice -- that sounded like it was echoing down a tunnel. 

“LIGHTWOOD. ALEXANDER LIGHTWOOD.”

He rubbed a hand over his eyes, squinting them to try to ameliorate a sandy dryness. Who was calling his name?

“MR. LIGHTWOOD. IF YOU DO NOT COME FORWARD, YOU WILL NOT BE RELEASED.”

I’ll be Mr. Lightwood.” An old gruff voice croaked. “I’ll be anyone if it gets me out of here for the day.”

“Shut your pie hole Skeeter, it’s just the drunk tank, we’ll all be out of here soon enough.” A squeaky, breathy voice followed, hacking a few coughs as punctuation.

“LAST CALL LIGHTWOOD”

A jumble of flailing limbs, he shot up as the combination of words around him started to make sense. His name was being called, they were mentioning ‘release’. If he remembered properly, ‘drunk tank’ was a slang term mundanes used to refer to prison for drunkards. 

Drunkards… wait is that why I’m here? There was no time to get caught up in thought. If he didn’t comply, he could get caught up in some kind of mundane justice system which would prove difficult to weasel his way out of. 

“Sorry, uh…” Shit, how should I address this person. Better to err on the side of higher rank than make the mistake of insulting them with a lower rank. “...officer. I was asleep. Sleeping. My apologies if it seemed disrespectful.” As he spoke, he stood up, walking toward the iron-bar doors. Knowing he had a habit of looking cold and impersonal, he did his best to half-smile and relax his posture. It appeared to be going okay, since the mundane guard was clinking around a set of keys and opening the door. 

“OUT.” The formidable woman’s tone lowered. “You can gather your effects at the desk to your left. After that, you are free to go. Follow me.” The guard led him down a maze of hallways that were simultaneously sterile and dusty. Alec found himself having a hard time keeping up, nearly tripping with each step. He’d never been hungover before, but he assumed that this must be part of it. 

Alec went through the motions, following all the rules and avoiding further trouble. He was given back a clear plastic bag of belongings, none of which belonged to him. The brusque officer dumped the contents onto a table, taking a step back and turning around. Alec fumbled for a second. His plan had been to take the bag with him and sort through it later, but judging by the guard’s stance, he was being given a bit of privacy to get himself sorted. Looking down at the items, her actions made more sense, since it was predominantly wearables. 

There was a familiar black brocade jacket-- Magnus’ -- along with a collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces. Also Magnus’ Alec noted to himself, with a bit more concern. If he lost any of Magnus’ jewelry, the warlock might never forgive him. Complimenting this was a wallet and a set of keys, thankfully both his. The last thing was a pair of expensive looking sunglasses Alec had never seen before in his life. 

He braced himself against the table with both hands. There was no way he was going to be able to nonchalantly put all of this on. Magnus was, at most, two-thirds his size.  The rings were going to be too small. The jacket would rip at the width of his shoulders, and that’s if he could even get his arms down the sleeves. The bracelets likely wouldn’t fit around his hands, and he had no idea how to put on a choker necklace. 

Think, Lightwood. Clearly, you came here dressed in all this. You can make it work.

Letting out a sharp exhale, he stood tall, determined to put on the coat as if it belonged to him. Alec was shocked when it slid on with ease, as if it had been tailored to his lithe yet muscular archer’s body. Not without trepidation, he slid the rings one at a time on his fingers, realizing that there were about three for each hand, fitting various fingers. He recognized the two chunky rings Magnus rarely took off-- the chunky gold ones with elegant letters engraved in them ‘M’ and ‘B’. More curious still, those rings fit Alec on the same fingers as they did the warlock. The bracelets gave him no trouble, and it turns out that the choker was a stretchy thing that easily stretched over his head. 

Unaccustomed to wearing sunglasses, he imitated what he’d seen mundanes do in the past, folding them and tucking them into the neck of his shirt. His heart stopped when his fingertips brushed the fabric. The shirt was a silk tunic, perfectly fitted to Alec and hitting him at the top of the thigh. 

Play it cool, you’ll deal with this when you’re out of here.

Putting his wallet and keys in his pocket made him realize that his pants were very tight, and partially to blame for how uncomfortable he’d been sitting in the jail cell. The jail cell he still couldn’t believe he’d spent the night in.

He didn’t remember anything, and he was about to be thrust back on the streets without a clue. But with all of ‘his’ belongings back on his body, he piped up to let the guard know he was ready to go. 

“I’m finished, officer.” 

She turned around, her face looking him up and down in a peculiar way that Alec had never experienced before. 

“Then on behalf of the Toronto Police Department, I release you from custody. I hope we never cross paths again Mr. Lightwood. Stay out of trouble.”

Toronto. This is not good.

“I actually have a question, before I go.” He realized it might be a misstep to stay here longer than necessary, but if he had any chance of getting his bearings, he wanted as much information as possible. “I understand if that’s out of line, but may I ask-”

“Spit it out, I have other things to do.” She crossed her arms, her mouth mindlessly chewing on gum.

“How did I get brought in last night?”

“You don’t remember, do you?” She popped her gum, a loud click echoing off the cinder block walls. “Typical drunk-tank.” Her hair was in a bun, flyaways bouncing as she shook her head. “I have half a mind to keep you wondering, but you don’t seem like this is a normal thing for you, so I’ll tell you.” She picked up a clipboard from a small stand near the door, flipping through yellowish pages. “Let’s see what we have here. Alexander G. Lightwood, attempted breaking and entering. Homeowner says you were trying to use a key to get in, which is why no charges were pressed. You were brought in primarily on public intoxication and disturbing the peace. We’ve got you down at arriving around 2:00 AM this morning.”

“Thank you so much, officer. That will help a lot.” He tried to smile again, but his anxiety was through the roof, making it difficult to hide. 

“Stay out of trouble.” She called along, opening the door for him. Walking was still difficult, exacerbated by the small flight of stairs between the precinct and the sidewalk. Alec needed somewhere to regain his bearings, and his growling stomach made the decision for him.

Across the street from the police station was a large, major chain cafe. He could grab a bite to eat, get his bearings, and make his way to the Toronto institute. For once in his life, Alec had some mundane money with him, just enough for a coffee and a sandwich. 

Minutes later, he was sitting in a secluded table on the second floor, head in his hands as he searched for any clues on his person. His feet were aching, and even though it was bad manners, he wanted to take off his shoes. Crossing one leg over his lap to reach his foot, he realized the culprit of his pain-- these were not his shoes. Sure, they were the right size, but they were short-shank boots with a three inch heel. He never paid much attention to shoes, but these were easily identifiable as one as Magnus’ favorite pairs of shoes. 

Why am I in all of Magnus’ clothes. Why do they fit me?

Alec wasn’t stupid. He knew the answer to the second part. A simple snap of the warlock’s fingers could easily tailor the clothes to fit Alec’s broad frame. But the first question was a little more difficult. Hundreds of possibilities swirled in his head, overwhelming his aching headache. After all, Magnus hadn’t even been with them as the bachelor party started. The last memory Alec had was of taking shots with the group and heading out to a club. He knew at the time it was a bad idea, but he did it anyway.  He paid the price twofold on that. Coffee could fix almost anything, and without a stele to activate an iratze , this bitter, black, bean juice was his best and only option. 

His wallet didn’t hold any clues. There were no receipts, no business cards, not even any informative smears or stains. His keys were intact, but a bit sticky. Without his phone, he had no way to contact his siblings, and if payphones still existed, he didn’t have change anyway. Thankfully, he had memorized the locations of most major institutes, just in case he were ever to get lost. He never thought it would actually come in handy. 

When his coffee was gone and his sandwich consumed, his bladder began to complain. He threw away his trash on the way to the bathroom, scuffling in quickly. After he finished, he moved over to the sink to wash his hands. A large miscalculation had been made in his plans. Going to the bathroom meant that he’d have to look at himself in the mirror, but it took him standing in front of the mirror to realize this.

He barely recognized the man in front of him. His hair was coiffed with product, messy yet puffy atop his head, much like Magnus’. Around his eyes was a smeared mixture of black eyeliner and glitter, making him look like an exhausted raccoon. That had to be fixed immediately. Wetting a paper towel, he leaned into the mirror and started rubbing at his under eye area. Most of the pigment wouldn’t budge, he noted as he tilted his head side to side to further assess the damage. And then he caught a glimpse of his ear. Each ear had one piercing, with his right ear sporting a cartilage piercing with a spiral cuff. This was too much to process. 

A mundane would have cried, but Alec Lightwood was not a mundane. He was a shadowhunter capable of focusing on a mission, not allowing feelings to cloud his judgement. Straightening the lapels of the baroque coat, he stood tall, rushing out of the bathroom. The door swung back into him, brushing his chest lightly, hitting something hard. 

There’s something in the coat. Why didn’t I check that?

Lo and behold, in the jacket pocket there was a flask-- Jace’s-- and a paper napkin from a Thai restaurant. The napkin was a clue, and the flask was exactly what he needed right now to cope. A tiny bit of alcohol could fix any of Alec’s myriad anxieties, and this was no exception. Unscrewing the cap, he tossed back a conservative swig, his throat burning at the taste. 

He wondered if mundanes called it ‘hair of the dog’ because the morning after drinking your throat feels dry and furry.

 



Getting around a strange city was easier than Alec expected. Each bus stop had a convenient map of the city, and it was simple to locate the Toronto Institute within the grid. It would only be a nine block walk, Alec’s feet rejoicing at the short distance as they suffered at each step. 

He felt like everyone was staring at him. 

Is this how Magnus feels all the time? Of course not. He actually looks good this way. I look ridiculous. 

Normally towering over any crowd, Alec now stood at least a head above everyone, the extra three inches of heel making him tower like a giraffe. Even when he wasn’t wearing strange clothes, walking with mundanes was not something Alec was used to. He usually hid behind a glamour, activating his invisibility rune. Without that luxury, he felt exposed. He vowed never to take his stele for granted. He was tempted to dip into the flask again, to stave off the discomfort, but he was already feeling warmth radiate through him from just one sip. It would be irresponsible to push that further. 

People bumped into him, and he embarrassingly tumbled backwards, trying to maintain his balance in heels. Without being able to iratze himself, going barefoot in a city posed too many challenges, so he was confined to these torture devices. 

The Toronto Institute was small in comparison to its New York counterpart. It was glamoured behind an abandoned Victorian era home-- a building any mundane would assume was ready for demolition.  

Fingers crossed their wards allow anyone of nephilim blood to enter… He thought as he held his breath and stepped forward. He gripped the rail tightly walking up the porch, his footing becoming more unstable. 

Probably just rickety stairs.

Walking through the glamours brought the building to life. A stark contrast to the ecclesiastical interior of his home, this institute had homey couches, stocked bookshelves, and floral wallpaper, matching what the original building must have looked like. It was strange. Shadowhunters barely indulged in styling their interiors based on history or comfort, but this space was full of both. A low hum of voices came from the central room, monitors perched over ornate desks. 

Nobody seemed to notice he entered, so he rapped on the door to announce his presence. A few glasses-clad heads popped up from their work, bright smiles stretching across their friendly faces. A tiny woman with pink hair rushed over, her saddle oxford shoes pattering on the ground with her small steps. She stopped less than two feet away from him, craning her neck upwards. She wore a bright dress, the puffed skirt brushing against his legs with residual movement. Her eyes were as wide as her smile, grey irises scanning over his face in awe.

“You must be Alec Lightwood… ” She continued to survey him gleefully, her grin unwavering. The closeness made Alec very uncomfortable, but before he could respond, another young woman pushed the other out of the way. This one looked more like a shadowhunter, wearing unassuming faded black jeans, boots, and a simple grey long sleeved shirt. Her black hair was loosely braided, a few pieces framing her face. 

“My apologies, Mr. Lightwood. Esme has insultingly poor manners-- that’s what happens when you spend all of your time inside the lab.”

 Esme leaned toward Alec, holding her hand over her mouth in a stage whisper. 

“She thinks I breathe too many embalming fumes.” She giggled at the thought, making Alec think there was truth in the statement.

But there were more important things Alec was thinking about right now-- predominantly, how these girls knew who he was. They couldn’t be more than twenty years old, but after taking in the group in the main hall, they seemed to be the oldest. Before he could think too deeply into the issue, the dark haired girl cut in. 

“I’m Rhiannon, head of the Toronto institute.” She extended a hand formally, and Alec shook it stiffly. 

“I’m Alec Lightwood-” He was cut off by Esme.

“We know!” She beamed, shifting her weight back and forth, sending her skirt swaying. She was caricature-like, and it made Alec uneasy. But he looked nearly just as unsettling, dressed up like Magnus Bane, so he let it pass. 

“What my partner is trying to say, in a completely inappropriate way, is that we have heard of you.” Rhiannon started.

“You’d be hard to miss, that deflect rune on your neck and all… It really emphasizes your bone structure...” Esme invaded his personal space again, standing on her toes and tilting her head at the rune. Alec swore a few strands of pink hair brushed his skin, but he tried not to focus on it. 

By the Angel, Esme!” Esme flinched at Rhiannon’s tone.  “Do I need to give you orders to leave? I might love you, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune to a write-up.”

The smaller girl pursed her lips, taking a defeated step back. 

“Like I was saying, we’ve heard quite a bit about you, mostly from Idris. The acting head of the New York institute, running around with Valentine’s daughter to save the world--”

“Also..word got around the eldest Lightwood sibling was looking to marry!” Esme interjected, but Alec and Rhiannon ignored her. 

“You might not remember me, but I was actually about three years behind you in the archery program. You’re an honorable soldier, although I must say, I didn't think you were the marrying type.” She winked at him, before snaking her arm around Esme. 

‘Partner’... wait...Oh… so they’re… but she’s the head of an Institute… she can’t possibly … they can’t. Why would she wink at me? Not the marrying type? Is she implying that I…? I’m getting married today. Shit, wait, how am I going to make it to the wedding today-  Alec started playing with his earring nervously, rotating it about. He understood Magnus’ nervous fiddling much more now that he had all this jewelry at his disposal. Sensing that Alec was drowning in her sudden display of unorthodox shadowhunter behavior, Rhiannon interjected, calming him down. 

“I know, we are a bit unconventional. We don’t get much action in Toronto, but this is an Institute where we are free to be who we are. Idris either doesn’t notice, or turns a blind eye. You can be yourself here too, especially if you’re in duress. I imagine that’s why you’ve randomly stumbled into our Institute--”

“Smelling like cigarettes, alcohol, and dressed like Magnus Bane?” Esme giggled again, the laughter shaking the frilly sleeves of her dress. Alec shifted nervously. Esme had a way of getting under his skin, and maybe the alcohol was playing a factor, but he started to feel dizzy. "You must have had quite the night..."

“Esme, I think we are overwhelming our guest by bombarding him in the doorway. I have some paperwork to attend to, but we don’t have any bodies for you to autopsy right now. Why don’t you lead Alec to the infirmary, where he can take a rest and clean up.” With a nod clearly learned by years of authority, she turned and went back to a desk in the back of the room.

It was funny, how easily Esme disarmed her. Alec imagined that Rhiannon could be a formidable leader, cool in a crisis, well spoken and wise. But around Esme, she became emotive, reactionary, and less predictable. If he remembered correctly from class, she was a bit of a pudgy kid, but well beyond her years in archery. The girls were polar opposites, but something about them fit together. 

Esme seemed pleased with this responsibility, linking her arm around Alec’s while dragging him down a narrow hallway. He reluctantly allowed her to pull him along, his dizziness growing stronger. 

“So how do you know about Magnus Bane?” Alec asked when they were out of earshot. 

“Who doesn’t know about Magnus Bane?” She swooned. “Although, you could consider me an expert… If you can’t tell, I’m a bit of a fan.” She blushed. 

“Never would’ve guessed.” Alec trailed awkwardly. Esme continued, her voice rattling off at speeds Alec couldn’t follow, even if his head didn’t feel full of concrete. 

“He’s mentioned in so many history books. His photos are in thousands of articles about the well-to-do throughout the years. He’s on the guest list from every great party for the past five hundred years, which contradicts his long standing claim of being only three centuries old. There are so many stories passed around through the ancestor’s diaries in Idris, not to mention the delicious rumors. And don’t even get me started on the blogs, or his personal social media feeds. He’s huge on Instagram. His following doesn’t compare to Kylie Jenner, but for a downworlder it’s impressive.”

He had no idea what Instagram was, or who Kylie Jenner was, and he was most certain he didn’t want to know. All this chatter was exacerbating his headache. 

“That’s pretty thorough.” Alec scratched at his neck. He was becoming very hot and itchy, but he chalked it up to the material of the coat. The hallways continued to snake around, and to his distress, they had to climb a flight of steep stairs. Magnus’ shoes were taunting him. He tripped on the top step, stumbling forward. 

“You must be quite the fan yourself. That’s an impressive Magnus cosplay! Not that people at ComicCon would know who Magnus was, silly mundanes. Last year, I dressed up as Catarina Loss, painted my skin blue… nobody got it but--” This time, Alec cut her off.

“I’m not a fan. Magnus is…” What is he, Alec? What is he to you that you woke up in his clothes? What is he to you that you’re even questioning how to describe him to someone else? Alec’s pulse started to race, a bead of sweat dropping from his chin. “He’s a friend. We’ve worked together often.”

“Ohmygosh.” She spat out the words so fast that it blurred into a single sound, punctuated by her palm hitting her face. “I’m so dense. He’s the High Warlock of Brooklyn. You work out of the New York Institute. Of course you’ve met him. I’m so jealous…”

Alec felt himself continue down the hall, but things started to feel far away. Distant, blurry, cold. 

Alec!” He heard a light voice yell, but he couldn’t remember who it belonged to. Everything started to spin. Everything went dark. 

Chapter Text

It took Simon thirty minutes to look through Magnus’ extensive vinyl record collection. Thirty minutes, using vampire speed. The high warlock oozed cool , but Simon was still impressed. It started out with him looking for a soundtrack for his snooping efforts, but it had snowballed into a musical nosedive. 

There are so many good choices. Original copy of ‘The Wall.’ ‘Rumors’ by Fleetwood Mac? This is literally impossible. 

Simon’s head was wrought with indecision. 

I had no idea half of these artists released albums on vinyl. The Weeknd? Chance the Rapper? Panic! At the Disco? … Big Sean? 

That last one left Simon Lewis speechless, a rare phenomenon. A silent Simon; even the chatter of  his internal monologue fell quiet. Rafael would be pleased. Shaking the uncomfortable bar mitzvah dance music aside, he honed in on a selection of early 2000’s alternative rock.

He needed something somber, to mourn the night that they’d collectively lost. At the same time, he didn’t want to feel overly depressed, or else he wouldn’t be motivated to keep up looking for clues in the whirlwind mess of the apartment. The deliberation that followed was the product of his musical prowess and chronic overthinking. Eventually, he was torn between two albums.

Viva La Vida by Coldplay? Or Hot Fuss by the Killers? I mean, ‘Violet Hill’ is so poetic and reflective, but ‘All these things that I’ve done’ just feels so much more appropriate…. 

Simon realized that the possibility of anyone returning to the loft within the duration of one album was unlikely, so there was plenty of time for both.

Coldplay to ease me into the morning, The Killers to give me that extra kick in the tuckus that I need. 

He spun around the first record before placing it on the turntable and resigning himself to the fact that he should probably start looking through the apartment for clues. It was a daunting task. He didn’t know what to look for, and even if he did, everything was a wreck. 

Goddamn it Magnus, why do all of your houses have to be so big? Instead of going room by room, he decided to take the Marie Kondo approach, gathering information based on categories.

Cell phones could provide him with the most valuable information, but it was going to be tricky. His and Clary’s phones were in dire need of rice, so after wiping off the tomato sauce from his device, he got to work digging through Magnus’ kitchen to see if he had any.

Five minutes later and he was ripping open a bag of basmati, trying not to spill it. He propped it up against the backsplash of the counter, and gingerly wedged Clary’s phone inside. 

This could explode at any second. He dramatically backed away hoping his outstretched hands could will the bag to not spill. 

Next, he needed to address his own phone. It wasn’t clear if all of the tomato sauce would ever come out of the buttons, but it might be salvageable. Something felt off to Simon; there was a noticeable difference between the two phones. 

Clary’s is heavier. He thought as he tossed his around. Definitely heavier. But we have the same phone….. He made sure of that last year, for the express purpose of being able to share chargers with her. Wait, could that mean my phone is… less wet?

It was worth a shot. There was a chance that his phone might start charging if he plugged it in, saving him time and giving him one working phone.

It could either charge… Or it could explode. Do wet phones explode if you plug them in? Definitely explode. Or it will electrocute me. Can vampires be electrocuted? I don’t think we can die that way… and if I don’t touch it I can’t get shocked.... Maybe I could wrap my hands in oven mitts?

The old Simon wouldn’t have taken the risk. He would have stood back, unable to fix anything, feeling powerless. But he wasn’t that same mundane anymore, he’d gone through too much to be a coward now. He took pride in his resolve as he grabbed the cord and plugged it into the wall, cautiously holding up the end of the charger to the port of the phone. With bated breath, he pushed the two together.

Silence... Silence is good… Silence is not an explosion or electrical fire… 

 

**buzz**

 

Peeling open one eye, Simon stole a glance at the device. The humble touch screen sprang to life. Through the white light of the loading screen, he could see the cracks in the glass were filled with orange-red tomato residue. 

There were a few orders of business to handle, now that the phone was on. 

 

**buzz**buzz**


A notification bubble popped across his screen.

 

ATTN NTWRK USER: WELCOME TO CANADA!

WHILE YOU ARE HERE, 

YOU CAN GET UNLTD TEXT AND .05 GB OF DATA PER DAY

TEXT ‘OK’ TO OPT IN. 9.99 USD/DAY

 

Fuck, my mom is going to be so mad that I’m using international data right now. He typed back ‘OK’ waiting a few moments for his phone to sync with the cloud. Simon was thankful that he knew more than most about technology, otherwise the moments to follow would seem impossibly long.

When it finally slowed down with the notification buzzing, he decided he would start by scrolling through his text messages. Besides a few from Clary, there weren’t any clues. It became painfully clear at that moment that he shouldn’t have hoped to find much anyway-- he didn’t have the phone numbers of anyone other than Clary. 

But I do have one of their Instagrams…

Tapping the screen opened Instagram, and he started to type in the username of the only person from the group he followed: Magnus Bane. 

 


 

When Jace and Lydia arrived at the rendezvous point, the other three were already there.

“Well, look who’s late…” Izzy taunted as she touched up her lip gloss, using a window as a mirror. 

“We stopped for breakfast,” Lydia sighed, crossing her arms.  “I told Jace it would take too long.” She mumbled, mostly to herself. Lydia had spent the remainder the walk rebuilding the walls of her stern exterior, and Jace was impressed by the convincing display she was able to muster. Nobody was the wiser to the fact that she’d just had a soul-searching heart-to-heart with Jace. 

“So now, what?” Clary was anxiously bouncing one leg, still uncomfortable on a mission, even if it was just to find Alec. She might not get along with Alec, but she cared about him nonetheless. She’d be lying to herself if she didn’t account for Jace arriving being a source of discomfort. Last week, she found out her boyfriend was her brother, and they hadn’t had a chance to unpack that yet. 

Jace distanced himself from the situation more than Clary did, choosing to ignore and compartmentalize these feelings rather than confronting them. Around her, he tried to be mission-focused, and after hearing the intimate details of Lydia’s story, he had even more that he needed to push down. Finding Alec was the only thing on his mind. 

“Now, we search the buildings on this block.” Jace sucked in his cheeks, looking all business-- shadowhunter business.

Satisfied with the state of her makeup, which to anyone else had already been pristine, Izzy popped her lips and joined into the conversation. 

“But without our weapons, we need to be careful.” Izzy warned, stating the obvious. Usually sharp, Izzy’s hangover brain was a bit slower, and it was out of character for her to not be more calculated. 

“Slow down you two. Always rushing in stele first, seraph blades blazing...tsk tsk.” Magnus rolled his eyes at the shadowhunters. They were so well trained, but they sometimes ignored what was right in front of them. They didn’t consider the human element of situations or take into account the mundane aspects of a job.  “If you’d looked at your maps on your phone more carefully, you might have noticed that there is only one building on this block. Toronto Police Service Headquarters.”

“What would Alec be doing at a police station?” Clary sized up the building; a resolute white stone thing, blending in with the rest of the skyline. Magnus was right-- without reading the sign or looking at the map,  it wasn’t obviously a police station. She needed to work on her observation skills. 

“That’s what we’re here to find out.” Lydia held her head high, ready to march into battle. “It might be suspicious for all five of us to walk in together.” After the egregious missteps of the past 24 hours, she didn’t trust her own judgement, let alone the others’. She prayed that Izzy was choosing to do the same thing, because the opposite was too annoying. “I suggest we split up and try not to draw attention to ourselves.”

“I know the most about police stations, I’ve spent a lot of time at them with Luke.” Clary stepped forward. “There are different departments, divisions. Lots of people float in and out all day. If we each go in with a purpose, nobody will bat an eye.” She started handing out orders. Lydia felt out of depth, taking orders from someone she’d been in a liplock with. It felt odd, inappropriate even.

“Izzy: Since you’re next of kin, you’re going to go in and make your way to the main desk to file a police report. Say he went missing two days ago. If you tell the truth, they’ll turn you away, since they can only file a missing persons report if someone has been gone for at least 48 hours. They’ll shuffle you around and you’ll get to see a good portion of the main floor.”

“I’ll go with her.” Jace interjects. “He’s my brother too, it bolsters our story a bit.” 

Clary, satisfied with the pairing, rattled off the next part of her impromptu plan. Everyone was a bit impressed at how well she was thinking on her size six feet.

“Magnus-- can you glamour Lydia to look like a cop? I’m going to have her pretend to bring me in for questioning. Don’t worry about playing the role, I can coach you through it.”

“Sure thing biscuit.” He looked around, making sure nobody was watching before snapping his fingers. Lydia’s clothes transformed into a bespoke cop uniform. “Cop roleplay… kinky.” Magnus winked. He didn’t realize the weight behind the innuendo, having no reason to believe that implying dirty deeds between Clary and Lydia could stir up anxious feelings. 

Even with gathering all of the effort she possibly could, Lydia couldn’t suppress the flush rising to her cheeks. Jace swallowed a chuckle, the secret almost too funny to not share. After collecting herself she nodded, not offering any objections to Clary’s plan.  

Magnus took note of the odd interaction, but didn’t want to address it unless someone else offered. He dramatically stood to attention, turning to Clary.

“And, commander Fairchild, what is my assignment?” He did his best to act like a good little shadowhunter soldier. Alexander’s clothes would have made him feel more competent in that ruse.

“Since you can easily make yourself invisible, you will scan anywhere else.” She was waving her hands, but not dismissively, rather searching for the right words. “We don’t have our steles, but you can unlock doors without them. Do a search for any strange activity in the building.” Clary was running out of terminology to make her seem confident. 

With everyone given their assignments, there wasn’t much left to discuss. Without their leader, this type of planning wasn’t as organized. Alec would have spoken up, telling everyone to break off into groups, but instead they all shared an awkward silence. Even though Clary had taken initiative in the plan, they still felt like nobody was really in charge. Jace was itching to jump into the action, not wanting to waste any more time with conversation. 

“Sound good everyone?” There were no objections. “Now, since we don’t have our phones, if we don’t find Alec within the next hour, let’s meet back up out here.”

“Actually, I can raise you one better.” Magnus piped up. “Hold out your wrists.” He waved over the outstretched arms, small designs spiraling over their skin. “If you trace the lines on these, it will glow for everyone. If they start to glow, gather back outside.”

“Okay then. Let’s do this.” Clary declared, the huddle breaking. 

They all chimed in agreement, splitting off into their respective groups and staggering their entrances to seem less suspicious. Nobody had any idea why Alec Lightwood would be in the station, but they’d find out soon enough.

 


 

“Name?” The desk clerk spoke robotically. She was a stern looking woman, probably in her early fifties. Her brown hair was speckled with hints of gray. Perhaps in the past, she was an officer herself, but now it didn’t look like she got out of this chair very often. 

“Isabelle Lightwood,” She didn’t get any response, instead the clerk narrowed her eyes in Jace’s direction. ”...and this is my brother Jace.”

“State your business.” Satisfied that the people in front of her weren’t a threat, she turned her head back to piles of paperwork.  

Jace busied himself scanning the room, leaving Izzy to be the diplomat and continue to deal with the administrative servant. It wasn’t unlike the Institute, except all of the technology was decades old. 

“Our brother, Alec Lightwood, went missing two days ago, and we’re here to file a missing person’s report.” The lines were rehearsed, exactly what Clary told her to say.

There was no response for a few moments, just the clicks and clacks of the ancient keyboard. 

“Alexander G. Lightwood was brought in this morning at around 2:00 am, for public intoxication and a failed attempt at breaking and entering. Charges weren’t filed, we held him for 8 hours while he slept it off.”

“Eight hours?” Isabelle’s voiced dropped. She started calculating things in her head. “Wait, that means he was released around 10:00 am. That’s less than a half-hour ago.” She braced herself against the counter, leaning forward, a few locks of platinum hair pooling on the surface. ”Do you know where he went?”

“No,” The clerk was unimpressed with Izzy’s sudden display of aggression. “... just that he’s no longer in our custody. He’s your problem now. Next!” She called the person behind Izzy, who was cemented in shock. Jace pulled her out of the way, readying her for a pep talk. 

“Thirty minutes, Jace. Maybe if I didn’t stop for coffee, if I got here earlier…” Her pace quickened. 

“Iz, don’t worry. If nothing else, this means we are pretty close to him. He’s here, he’s alive, we just have to go the last ten yards and find him. Magnus can do the tracking again, no big deal!” A sly smile flashed across his face. “But before we go, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. You go wait outside.” He turned, winking her and getting back in line. 

 



Fifteen minutes later, Jace sauntered down the stairs of the police station, his head held high and a spring in his step. 

“So, I found out where Alec was trying to break into last night.” Jace beamed. 

“I still have no idea how you were able to do that.” Lydia was impressed at Jace’s ability to flirt information out of the public servants. Despite the fact that she was a very attractive woman, she’d never had much luck with flirtation.

After Izzy activated the alerting sigil, the group gathered outside the police station. Clary and Lydia didn’t have the chance to initiate their part of the plan, so Magnus quickly changed her out of her cop clothes. While they were waiting for Jace, Izzy went on a rant about how her brother claimed he was going to flirt information out of a justice official.

Magnus still wasn’t entirely amused. Usually, he was the most successful flirt in a group, and he didn’t want to be outdone by a twenty year old shadowhunter. 

“We were lucky he was able to use his cockiness for good this time.” Magnus rolled his eyes.  “I’m having a hard time tracking Alec right now, his movements seem erratic and muddled. If I didn’t know better, it would seem he’s activated his anti-tracking rune or was hidden between some impressive warding. With that in mind, any information we have is incredibly valuable, so thank you Wayland, Lightwood, Morgenstern…whatever your last name is nowadays.”

Jace raised an eyebrow. My last name has never been Lightwood, warlock. He wanted to say, but for the sake of keeping the peace, he refrained. 

“He was spotted by someone walking their dog, trying to break into a top level loft in West Queen West, which from what the kind clerk told me, is about half a mile southwest of here. The owner of the house was also interviewed, so he might be able to help us as well.”

Jace pulled out his phone, typing the address into his navigation app. 

“Well, there’s no time like the present.” Lydia stepped next to Jace, glancing over his shoulder at the directions. “These are simple enough. We should get going right away.”

Walking as a group through a strange city was more difficult than expected. They found it nearly impossible to stay together, so they ended up splitting back into two groups. Jace paired up with Magnus and Izzy, supposedly discussing all the possibilities that would lead to Alec breaking into a stranger’s loft.

This left Lydia and Clary trailing behind, having commandeered Jace’s phone. They didn’t know each other well, which was a great excuse for the awkward silence. Lydia could tell that Clary didn’t remember anything, and that was for the best as far as she was concerned. 

Chapter Text

How long does it take for the average shadowhunter to recover from fainting?

Esme scribbled into her tiny notebook she kept on the corner of her desk; the one she jotted any questions she wished she could ask Shadowhunter google, but would have to settle for looking up in the library later. It helped get all the distracting thoughts out of her head, giving her the comfort of knowing that she’d get her answers later.

‘No time for distractions now, Es.’ Rhiannon had reminded her when they were undressing Alec into a hospital gown. Esme took too long lifting off what were definitely Magnus Bane’s real rings. Rhiannon wasn’t wrong; Esme’s penchant for diving down research rabbit holes had nipped them in the butt many times. This time though, someone’s life was at risk. 

Not just someone . This is the famed Alec Lightwood: Master archer, eldest heir to the Lightwood name, the rogue who took matters into his own hands with Valentine Morgenstern, the totally beautiful chronically single one…. Get it together Es-- Rhia just said this to me less than ten minutes ago and here I am again. Getting distracted. 

She took in two deep breaths. It was time to initiate her standard lab protocol, starting with docking her iPod into its tiny speakers. The sound wasn’t great, but it filled the small, echoing laboratory of the Institute. Next,  she changed into a pair of sleek leggings, a black long-sleeved shirt, black boots and a white lab coat. There was no need to care about modesty in the lab; nobody save Esme ever entered it. The Toronto Institute didn’t necessarily draw the brightest minds, making her the only one qualified to even be in the room. It always made her sad to hang up her cute clothes to don the boring uniform, but the utilitarian gear was less likely to bump into test tubes and provided protection against dangerous chemicals. Iratzes could heal a base burn, but she’d rather avoid the possibility altogether. With her goggles on, she was ready to get to work. 

There wasn’t much in terms of physical evidence to go off of. After digging through Alec’s pockets-- well really Magnus’ pockets, all she found was a flask containing small amount of what smelled like normal alcohol. It still needed analysis.  Beyond that, she had six vials of blood to run toxicology on. 

It was easy, going through the motions for the common blood tests. Everything was familiar, the sound of the label stickers peeling off the sheet, the smell of the marker she used to write out Alec’s initials on each vial, the sloshing motion of the blood as she gently shook the tubes. After the autopilot disengaged, she honed in her focus on the flask. 

“Now what is in you….” Esme spoke to herself, squinting into the open lid. Her only course of action was to portion it into cups and run tests for drugs, poison, any compound that could knock down a full-grown shadowhunter. Sliding open an often neglected drawer of the lab, she started carding through neatly aligned colored strips. During institute downtime, which was most of the time if she was honest, Esme spent some of her time perfecting the art of supernatural test-strip engineering. Mundane drugs and poisons were easy to test for, but anything related to the shadow world definitely couldn’t be on any lab supply websites. Of course she’d test for those things too, but it seemed unlikely that anything mundane could render a shadowhunter completely unconscious. 

She was able to fill a pan of 12 stout dishes with the alcohol. It wasn’t ideal, she would have rather had enough to fill cups, but this would give her the chance to have 12 pure, individual trials by laying down the strip in the shallow liquid. If all of her strips were as accurate as she’d been told by the people she sold them to, she had four minutes to wait for results. Not that she needed their feedback of course, she just loved to remind herself of her reputation.

Hopping back to her iPod, she artfully danced her finger around the click wheel to navigate into her ‘Approx four minute songs’ playlist and hitting ‘shuffle’. It landed on ‘War of Hearts’ by Ruelle. 

The song always reminded her of her early days with Rhiannon. Days where they were training to become parabatai. Rhiannon was always a strong fighter, a strong hunter, so it was a surprise to everyone at the academy when she chose Esme to train as her parabatai. The pair spent hours training, but no matter how hard she tried, Esme couldn’t find her place among any style of combat.

 



‘She’s not fit to be a warrior, and parabatai  pairings are for those who want to go down in history as the best of all fighters. She could never defend you in combat.’ 

Esme overheard the headmaster say to Rhiannon, during a meeting in her office. She knew it was rude to snoop, but she peered through the crack in the door. Rhiannon wasn’t sitting in front of the desk, instead standing in a defensive fighting stance, as if what she was about to say would initiate combat.  ‘But she is the only one I would want by my side in any battle.’

‘Choosing a parabatai is not a requirement. Most shadowhunters never do it. It is not a decision to be taken lightly either. You are a gifted archer-- one of our best. I don’t want to see the reputation you’ve earned go to waste.”

It was true. Rhiannon was one of the best, despite coming from a relatively unknown shadowhunter family. Esme had seen her beat fighters who had twice her experience, brought to the ground either by her arrows or by the tiny seraph dagger she hid behind her ankle. They were both only fifteen, but Rhiannon carried herself like a woman of honor with grace beyond her years. That was one of the many reasons why she tried so hard to keep her relationship with Esme a secret. She knew how it would look in the eyes of the Clave, and how it would jeopardize her entire career. Esme was always the one coaxing her out of her shell, convincing her to let loose. 

Training to become parabatai was the best excuse to spend time together without arousing suspicion, especially since the rules of the Clave stated you could not become parabatai if the pair were in love. Both girls knew they’d be breaking this rule, but being so young, they viewed it as a formality. If they were parabatai, they’d always be stationed in the same place. They would live together their entire lives. They could feel each other always, in every moment. Their hearts would beat as one. At the time, it seemed like the perfect way around the strict societal rules of the Shadowhunters. 

Despite all the adversity they faced along the way, eventually their petition was granted to conduct their first parabatai trial. It didn’t go very well-- it wasn’t even passable. Esme had nearly gotten a concussion by smacking herself with her own stave.

This is exactly what I said from the start. By bringing her here you are making a mockery of the sacred oath of the parabatai.’ The headmaster looked at Rhiannon, but pointed a finger at the smaller girl. She refused to address Esme, didn’t want to give her any respect. The girls had just attempted their first parabatai trial, and they were being mocked in front of their home institute. ‘Why would you ever want her to be your parabatai?!’ 

She remembered how it felt, all eyes on her, judging her. She wanted to shrink down and hide, a far cry from her normal effervescent personality. She started to feel like she was trapped in glass, like she couldn’t breathe. But Rhiannon pulled her closer, so they were both standing in the direct center of the room. An unprecedented confidence radiated from the archer as she took a deep breath, preparing to speak. 

“Because I love her.”  Rhiannon’s voice was even, collected. Murmurs and whispers started to fill the room. This was a show of defiance uncommon in the Shadowhunter world. “Because I love her and this is the only way I could ever show it; the only way I could express it within the rules of the Clave. I could never share a wedded union rune with her, but this I could share. She is a part of me. And I am a part of her. Isn’t that what parabatai are? At the root of it all?” 

Looking back, it was an incredibly naive statement. After painful hours of research in the months after, Esme found the well-hidden stories about what happened to parabatai who were in love. The power spun out of control, the hunters transforming into something beyond nephilim-- monstrous things. It was terrible to think about, and to be honest, she was happy that they hadn’t gone through with it. She was happy, however, that Rhiannon decided to go through with what followed the declaration.

What happened next hushed the room. But Esme wouldn’t have noticed; she wouldn’t have noticed if a nuclear bomb exploded or if the Backstreet Boys started performing an impromptu concert. She wouldn’t have noticed because right there, in front of everyone, her archer was kissing her. After the initial freeze of shock, she sank into the kiss.

They were kissing the same way they used to late at night when they shared bunk beds in the barracks. The same way they stole kisses after training sessions in the locker room. The same way Esme pulled Rhi behind a pillar at the New Year’s party and kissed her while everyone was watching the fireworks.

But this time it was Rhiannon pulling her. The quiet, concentrated, and dignified fighter was pulling her close, nearly lifting Esme off her tiny feet. In all their years, Esme had never seen her best friend so emboldened. Rhiannon had always been so devoted to the Clave, convinced they could fit their relationship into the strict and binding rules, leaving Esme to be the one to pull her away from it, to let go once in awhile and be happy.  Esme was normally the initiator-- but not this time. The same spark Rhiannon put on display with her archery fired through Esme at that moment.

When they broke away, the review council was scarlet; old resolute faces contorted into scowls, threatening to burn the ground they stood on. 

“You are blind to misconstrue the sacred parabatai bond in such a way. It is quite the opposite. You have violated every rule the Clave has set forth for parabatai. A sharp student like you knows that parabatai should never enter complete the union if they share romantic feelings, even if those feelings are dishonorable in the eyes of the Angel.” The headmaster was seething. “I would expect so little of the barely-runed shadowhunter beside you, but I held you to a higher standard Rhiannon. She has ruined you.”

They received news the next day that they were to be exiled from their home institutes and kicked out of the Shadowhunter academy a year early. Esme wouldn’t be missed, but some of the leaders were hesitant to lose such a strong fighter like Rhiannon. After the massive casualties of the uprising, strong shadowhunters were growing more scarce. To utilize her talents, they placed her in charge of the Toronto institute-- a glorified mundane house-- which they had previous difficulty convincing people to lead.

There she could be of use without drawing any attention, and there Esme could completely seep into the cracks unnoticed. In earnest, it had been the best blessing either of them could have hoped for. Rhiannon was able to lead an institute, even if it was a small one, from a very young age. Esme was free to study whatever she wanted without any watchful eyes. They could live their lives together in relative peace. 

 



Esme was so completely lost in thought that when the next song started, she nearly fell off her lab stool. It was time to look at the results.

All the strips were negative, the pads still stark white, except for her blue-labeled strip. It tested for various memory-altering drugs, mostly of fae origin. The box for ‘5’ had flared to bright turquoise.

Five. What is five… Esme dug through the drawer looking for the key, hand-written on a post-it note. Five: Middlemist Essence. 

Everything made sense now. Alec’s confusion for his location, his lack of personal belongings, they could all be explained by this drug’s essence. Middlemist Essence, or as it was commonly called amongst the Shadowmarket drug dealers-- midli-- produced prolonged episodes of memory loss, allowing its users to be inhibition free. After waking up with what felt like a terrible hangover, the user would slowly start to get their memories of the lost time back. The memories, however, got shared between the group using it, so a person never remembers their own memories. If a person were to do midli alone, they would simply never get their memories back. That made it the perfect drug for parties-- at least to some bored downworlders. 

And Rhia and I, that one time when we needed to let loose after a particularly stressful demon nest extermination. Esme chuckled to herself.

Usually, a shadowhunter could let the drug run its course without much trouble, but something about mixing it directly with alcohol had amplified the effect. The test strip should have only turned light blue, but instead it had flashed neon. She needed to treat this like an overdose. If Alec had already been exposed the night before, and then again this morning, it’s possible that there were toxic amounts of the compound in his body.

There was no known antidote for Middlemist essence, and since it was of Seelie origin, it would take more than shadowhunter science to cook one up. Luckily for Esme, after being exiled to the Toronto institute, she had plenty of spare time. Time she not only spent on magical test strips, but also on studying Warlock and Seelie alchemy. In Idris, she never would have gotten away with practicing the dark arts , but here in Canada, it flew under the radar. It was her passion, the only thing that made her feel competent around here. 

Without a High Warlock, she had become the unofficial potions master of Toronto, and all her hard work prepared her for this moment: Saving Alec Lightwood. Lugging a giant alchemy textbook from underneath her work table, she plopped it on her lab bench and got to work.

 

Chapter Text

“So this is it, I guess. ” Jace proclaimed as they stood in front of the building. It was an older, large brick building, clearly repurposed from an industrial factory. The neighborhood was bustling, full of people walking purebred dogs, dressed in luxury workout clothes, and darting in and out of organic coffee shops. The loft building stood in the middle of the gentrification, stylishly grunge.

“Hey, Magnus, doesn’t this kind of look like-” Clary started, but Magnus cut her off. 

“I’m insulted, biscuit. Don’t make me worry that your soft dough is going stale. I would never live in such a wannabe trendy area.” The warlock curled his lip in disgust, peering around the block to get a better look of the locale.

Izzy raised an eyebrow at him, skeptical of his statement. 

“I wouldn’t!” Magnus came to his own defense. “Brooklyn is organically hipster. West Queen West-- an awful name for a place by the way-- is clearly a fake model.” He shivered at the thought of his little nook of Brooklyn ever becoming this cringeworthy. Of course there were parts of Brooklyn where the streets were lined with Whole Foods and people wore fake glasses and beanie hats. But Magnus went through a large amount of effort over the decades to carve out a space of his own, making contributions to budding businesses, giving the neighborhood a certain bohemian reputation.

Clary laughed at Magnus’ use of the millennial term, but Lydia, Jace, and Izzy were clueless. At this point, they were used to missing almost all his references.

“Guys, can we focus for a second?” Jace intervened, stepping between Clary and Magnus. “We need to go in and talk to this mundane.” Jace turned to enter the building, but Lydia pulled him back. 

“I don’t think it would be wise for all of us to go up.” Everyone turned to look at Lydia. “Mundanes can be easily overwhelmed.”

“It’s true.” Clary piped in. “The five of us might be unarmed, but we still look a bit threatening.”

“I’m the best at talking to people.” Isabelle tossed her platinum locks over her shoulder. “ Despite what Jace’s fluke of a display suggested earlier.”

“I’ll have you know, I have centuries of charisma under my belt-” Magnus chopped.

“You know what Lyd?” Clary turned. Lydia internally squirmed at the casual expression of affection a nickname could give. She had to pull her thoughts away from the events of last night, and remind herself that Clary didn’t remember anything. She didn’t remember anything, and right now the redhead was just describing plans, nothing more.  “Why don’t we leave the three best talkers to go up there and see what which one can get the most info out of the guy.”

“I think that’s a fine idea, Fray.” Lydia noticed that Clary’s mouth upturned at the use of her mundane name. Her familiar name. It couldn’t hurt to let herself return the gesture of friendliness that Clary had expressed to her. “We’ll stand out here and keep watch. The rest of you, off to it.” She motioned them away dismissively, the interrogation squad filing into the building. Once they were all gone, a bony elbow nudged her in the side.

“How long ya think it takes for them to start having a dick measuring contest up there?” Clary laughed, her voice a clear bell above the bustle of the city.

“I think that might be a bit difficult for one of them…” Lydia wasn’t great at cracking jokes, but she tried her best to play along.

“Nah, Izzy would win.” Both girls laughed, falling into a conversation of meandering small talk, surprised at how easy and natural it was. Lydia felt uncharacteristically easygoing. 

Upstairs, Izzy led the pack as they paraded toward the loft.

“Is this the right number, Jace?” Izzy pointed to the placard by the door.

“That’s what they said at the station.” Jace Pulled a yellow post-it note out of his pants pocket, unfolding it to show Isabelle the number ‘678’ scrawled out in faded pen ink. “Although it might be important before we go in there to point out Alec didn’t try to come in this way-- he was on the fire escape when the police were called. The officers were impressed for some reason.”

“Climbing a fire escape excites mundanes…” Izzy rolled her eyes.  “I’ll never understand these people”

Au contraire, ” The tone in the warlock’s voice made it clear he was about to gloat. “I once joined along with a traveling acrobat troupe who strung our lines across fire escapes. We traipsed across all of french bohemia that way. I can attest to them having the potential to be very exciting.”

“Not the time for your grandiose stories, warlock.” Jace quipped. He knew calling him by his downworlder race would shut him up, getting the group back on task. It was hard, but it was effective; Magnus huffed and stopped talking.

“Alright, showtime.” Izzy knocked on the door loudly, three loud thuds. Seconds later, an older middle-aged man was opening the door. 

“Hello, I’m Isabelle Lightwood, I was wondering if I could have a wor-” The door slammed in front of her face.

“Well that was a disaster, Iz.” Jace pushed her out of the way, knocking again. This time, the door only opened an inch, the safety chain still in place. 

“If you’re with the Lighthouse girl, or whatever, I don’t want anything to do with you. Not after the other one tried to break in last night.”

“That’s what we want to talk about-”

 

Slam.

 

“I’m going to deal with this, step aside children.” Magnus swirled his hands, the door unlocking before them and swinging open. Jace and Izzy followed at his heels.

“What the-” The older man recoiled, running backward away from the intruders. His robe was flapping about with his movements.

“Stop.” Magnus snapped his fingers and the man froze. “Sit.” He gestured to a chair, moving it beneath the homeowner, and lowered his body into it. “Much better, no?” Magnus looked to his companions.

“Is that really necessary?” Izzy protested. “Isn’t he kind of the victim here?”

Jace approached the man with caution, going over to poke him in the chest. When the man didn’t react, he was impressed. While Jace was always hesitant about downworlders, in this case, Magnus saved their hides. 

“Well Iz, would you rather us still be locked outside in the hallway?” She looked away from her brother, chewing her cheek. “Didn’t think so. Now, are you going to let him talk, or what?” 

“We’ll see if he wants to let himself talk.” Magnus waved a hand over the mundane’s face, unfreezing it.

“Get the hell out of my house! I’m going to call the cops!”

Magnus swiped his hand again.

“See, exactly what I thought.” Magnus paused for a second, mulling something over.

“Do it.” Jace decided.

“Do what?” Izzy didn’t like where this was going. “No, you’re not suggesting we steal his memories.”

“Not steal, Isabelle.” Magnus turned to her. “Stealing implies we don’t give them back. Think of this as more… borrowing them. I just need enough time to scan through them and then I’ll put them right back where I took them from in his timeline, give or take a few hours.”

“Magnus….” Izzy chided.

“What, it’s not an exact science. The normal use case is to remove memories, not put them back.” She still seemed hesitant. “My goodness princessa , it’s just a joke. I didn’t become the High Warlock by being sloppy.”

“Fine, but I don’t like it…” 

“Touch me with one hand and touch him with your other.” Jace and Izzy did as ordered. “This way you can see the memories as well. It’s easier than me explaining everything secondhand.”

With a deep breath, Magnus placed his thumbs on the man’s forehead. With a flash of blue magic, they were diving in.

 



“MAAGGGGGNNNNUUSSS” Alec screamed toward the windows, his voice heavily slurred. “MAGNUS. I got dragged into the portal with everyone else somehow. I tried to open the front door with your key… You know to come back and finish what we… you know…” He waved his long arms around, implying something vaguely inappropriate. “But it didn’t work!” His arms fell limply to his sides in defeat as he made his hopeless appeal to the closed windows. The shadowhunter started crying, his drunken body resorting to tears to handle the mixture of anger and sadness he was feeling.

“So I…” The sound of metal clamored below him as he sank to his feet. “I climbed up here. I climbed here to ask you why you would give me a key that doesn’t work!” He buried his head in his hands. “Is it a pity key? Do you give it to all your shadowhunners ? Do you not like me!? Am I a joke to you?”

He tried to open the windows. Much to his dismay, they were all locked. 

“Magnus, let me innnn!” Alec banged against the glass, rattling the windowpane. “I promise not to do whatever the thing was that made you mad and give me a fake key ever ever again! I dunno know what it was but I won’t do it!”

 


 

Magnus held onto the memories, following along until the moment police whisked Alec into a cop car, but there wasn’t much left to listen to. It was mostly Alec sobbing.

“Wait, you gave Alec a key to your loft?” Izzy said skeptically as the bond broke.

“That’s what you take away from this?” Magnus sighed. “I know this sounds like I’m dodging the truth, but I have no memory of doing such a thing.” He was less than convincing. 

“It does sound like you’re dodging the truth, because you are. I noticed an extra key on his keyring a week ago, but I didn’t want to pry.” Izzy winked. Izzy knew it was in bad taste to make these jokes on Alec’s wedding day-- Alec’s wedding to Lydia. But with everything happening she knew their chances of making it back for the wedding were slim, and that bit of uncertainty made it feel ok to go back to her levels of pre-engagement Magnus and Alec teasing.

Jace broke up the banter.

“Let’s break this down and clarify what happened. So Alec was trying to get in thinking it was Magnus’ loft. Based on what he said, he’d been there with all of us, and then you --” He pointed to the warlock. "-- portalled us here. To Toronto.” 

Izzy cut in. “Seemingly to get rid of us…. For some reason…” 

Jace rolled his eyes, choosing to ignore whatever she was trying to insinuate. 

“Thankfully we all knew where we were going, or else we’d be in limbo right now.” Jace didn’t spook easily, but he had some post-situational anxiety about how dangerous it was to portal while intoxicated. 

“But clearly Alec didn’t know, because he thought we were still in New York… ” Izzy paced the strange apartment. “I guess one of us physically dragged him in, and then afterward he tried to make it back to your place, Magnus. And despite your qualms about the neighborhood, this is probably the closest looking place he could find...”

“I’m insulted that drunken Alexander would mistake this abysmal place for my own.” Magnus looked around, cringing at the stereotypical post-modern decor, including the clear chair the apartment resident was stuck on. He realized he’d found a way to wiggle himself out of the line of question. “Isabelle, for someone so hesitant to let me use magic on this mundane, you seem fine spending time in his house while he stays frozen.” 

“Oh wait, yeah…” Izzy chuckled. “He’s still there, isn’t he? Can he hear us?”

“Probably not, but I don’t want to find out. You two go wait outside. I’ll get him back to normal and erase his memory of us being here. No objections to that  I’d assume?” 

 


 

With all five stomachs growling, they decided to talk over the findings during brunch at a secluded rooftop cafe, curtained by rows of out of control vines. 

“So it’s a dead end.” Clary sipped at a mocktail mojito.

“Not entirely, biscuit.” Magnus took a languid sip of a mimosa. “We now have a timeline of where we were around 1:30 am, and the explanation on how you all got to Toronto.” He popped a lemon-zest glazed donut hole into his mouth, still warm from being fresh-baked. 

Jace was demolishing a plate of chicken and biscuits, talking with his mouth full in reckless abandon. “But--” He pointed with his fork. “-- we still don’t know where Alec is right now.” He washed down a bite of chicken with his own mimosa. It was a generous gulp, half-emptying the slender flute. 

“Jace is right--” Lydia started, dabbing her napkin to her mouth. 

“Please, never say that. He doesn’t need his ego inflated any more than it already is.” Izzy groaned. She turned her attention back to her plate of nutella crepes, meticulously covering each fold with layers of banana and chocolate to make sure that she tasted all the flavors with each bite. 

“I’m serious. It was logical to think that perhaps Alec returned to the loft this morning, but I guess once he woke up he realized he wasn’t in New York, and that it couldn’t possibly be Magnus’ loft.”

“We were actually kinda dumb to think that he would go back there.” Jace leaned back into his chair, letting out an inappropriate belch. “I thought the same thing Lydia, but think about it. We don’t remember anything from last night. It’s a total black hole.  Alec probably woke up having no idea that he went to West Queen West, or even that he was in Toronto.”

“All he knew was that he was in prison.” Clary raised her eyebrows, stirring her drink with a spiral-design paper straw. “Speaking of our mutual black-out, do you guys think it’s smart to be guzzling those mimosas?”

Everyone sheepishly raised their glass, taking a sip. Even tightlaced Lydia. 

“I can’t even with you guys.” Clary motioned over the waiter, signaling to bring everyone another round of waters. “Come on, hydrate. We have more work to do.”

“You kids all finish up your food, I’m going to go outside to make some calls.” Magnus rose from his seat, crumpling his napkin on the table.  Meet me outside when you’re done.” He flicked his wrist, a few hundred dollars in Canadian bills apparating. “When the waiter comes back, give him this. Tell him to keep the change.”

 

Chapter Text

Fluorescent lights buzzed, the sound drilling into Alec’s head. 

What the hell? That familiar appeal seemed to be following him, taunting him each time he woke up. At least this time I know where I am. But what happened… ?

A heaviness pinned his body down to the bed, he noticed as he stirred. Opening his eyes revealed exactly what he thought: he was in the Toronto Institute infirmary. It was less of an infirmary and more of a well-equipped nurses office. It only had one small bed, which he was folded in uncomfortably. 

“Alec! You’re awake. Fantastic!” Esme rose from her position, curled up on a small chair. She shirked off her blanket and placed the book she was holding on the seat.

“Esme. What happened? I remember walking here, feeling dizzy, and then waking up.”

“That’s fantastic news!” She sang, prancing over to the instruments and sensors decorating the sides of his hospital bed. Notes were scribbled on clipboards, buttons beeped. There was a peculiar IV bag of dark blue liquid hanging to Alec’s right, and as Esme replaced the bag with another, he became aware of the needle in the back of his hand.  

“How is it fantastic?” Alec deadpanned. “What is in this?” He pointed to the IV with his free hand. Did she drug me? Is this really an institute? Were they taken over by demons? Does she work for Valentine?

“With that much middlemist essence in your bloodstream, its remarkable that you remembered your name when you came in here yesterday. Combined with the alcohol, its effect was nearly tripled.” She flipped open a small notebook, jotting down numbers she read on his bedside monitor.  “I never would have pegged you for the party drug user, Lightwood.”

“Party drug… what? I’ve never.” Alec’s stomach churned. How did I drink enough to think it was acceptable to do drugs? My reputation is ruined…

“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.” She winked, picking up Jace’s flask off the counter and giving it a shake. “Thank the Angel you still had this with you, otherwise it would have been hours until I finished a full blood toxicology screen! It’s much easier to analyze laced alcohol than laced blood.”

“That’s not mine-” Alec tried to sit up to a defensive posture, but he was held back by the various tubes and wires attached to his body. 

“Sure, that’s what they all say.” She gently placed her hand on his shoulder, leaning him back on the bed. “Relax, everyone’s dabbled once or twice. It’s not like you’re hopped up on something addictive like Yin Fen. Besides, I was able to whip up a very effective antidote for this.” 

She giggled, her eyes going wide. “Oh my gosh I’m sorry, that was your original question wasn’t it? What was in the IV bag...” She shuffled back to the IV, unhooking the bag and holding it out so Alec could read. “This is what’s in the IV-- the antidote. I mixed it up myself combining my knowledge of chemistry and potion making. I was a bit nervous at first, but it seems to be doing the trick!”

“What do you mean?” Alec was alarmed by the fact that this young girl had concocted something that was now slowly dripping into his bloodstream. She couldn’t be more than seventeen years old, yet she was in full control of his body. The mention of potions made him even more on edge. Shadowhunters usually had very little knowledge of magic, so he doubted her skills were very well practiced. 

“It’s easier to understand if I explain how the Seelie drug works. Middlemist essence, or midli as it is often called, lowers your inhibitions by taking away your memories as you make them. It makes you incapable of conceptualizing that your actions have consequences, because you don’t think any further than the present.” Alec sunk back down on the pillows.

Fucking Jace. Alec thought.

“The good thing is, you get your memories back, eventually, but there are a few strange caveats. It affects the entire group you’re with when you take the drug. You won’t get back your memories, instead you’ll get back those of someone else. It’s what makes the drug popular for bonding rites, since everyone has to talk about everything they remember.” She blushed, remembering her previous experience with the drug. “It has a funny way of making people much closer.”

 


 

Magnus had lied. He didn’t need to make a phone call; what he needed was a moment to himself, to stew with his own thoughts. All morning, he’d gallivanted through the city with a crew of Shadowhunters in tow, and there was little to show for it.

Alec was still untrackable, and Magnus felt useless. All he had left at his disposal were his years of cunning deduction, but even that was coming up dry. There simply weren’t enough clues; he couldn’t get into Alexander’s head.

He squinted his eyes closed, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. There was no time to lose his composure, to give into the helplessness. What he needed to do was collect his thoughts and regain his composure. 

With a snap of his fingers, Alec’s leather jacket appeared over his clothes. He’d been wearing it the whole time, glamored invisible; one of the only comforts he could find in this situation. The well-worn leather hung off his slender frame, his shoulders much narrower. It hugged him, encapsulating him in Alec’s scent.

Alexander, where are you? He silently called out. If I was him, where would I be right now? What would I be doing? 

Magnus fished around in the pockets of the coat, where Alec had stashed his pack of cigarettes. He wanted to taste the tobacco on his tongue, to hone in on the last memory he had of his shadowhunter. Not your shadowhunter, you old warlock. For all you know he’s still getting married to the Branwell girl today.  He thought to himself, his existential misery creeping in.

The carton was still there, but not the lighter. Magnus slid out a slender cigarette, closing the box and replacing it in the jacket. He flicked it in his fingers, as if to shake off nonexistent ash, and the tip flamed to life. He took an unhurried drag, letting the fumes fill his lungs in their entirety before relaxing into an exhale. 

I wonder where the noble shadowhunter picked up such a naughty vice? The nephilim are so utilitarian, health focused... He thought back to his comment to Alec about iratzes curing lung cancer, chuckling at how drunk it sounded in retrospect. Magnus took another puff, throwing back his head to the sky and watching the smoke rise. He blew a few smoke rings-- a difficult feat on a breezy, early autumn morning. Can Alexander make smoke rings… ? I’d love to teach him.

But it wasn’t his place to teach Alec these things, not now. Right now, they needed to find Alec. He nursed the cigarette until he heard the group of shadowhunters clamor through the restaurant door, quickly re-glamoring the jacket transparent. He knew it was gauche, but he threw the butt to the ground and stomped it out. 

A pang of guilt had him snapping his fingers to throw it-- along with any other trash on the sidewalk-- into the trash bins. Time to get back on mission.

 


 

It took some thorough convincing, but Alec finally cajoled Esme into discharging him and letting him get dressed. 

“I went ahead and fetched you some standard-issue shadowhunter clothes. We were lucky to have some in your size. They’re not specialized archer regulation like I’m sure you usually wear, but it’s all black, so you’ll probably be more comfortable…” Esme nervously glanced to the chair, where she had neatly folded and piled up Magnus’ clothes. “Unless you want to wear what you came in with, although I imagine the costume was the product of the midli .” Alec couldn’t figure out why, but Esme blushed.

He glanced at the clothes she laid on the foot of the bed, anxiety rising as he noticed that there weren’t any shoes.

“Looking for these? ” She held up a pair of plain black boots from the floor. “I didn’t want to put them on the bed. I think it’s bad luck to put shoes on an elevated surface or a table.” She placed them back on the ground. “You were struggling so much in those heels, finding you more suitable footwear was the first priority. I hope they’re the right size. Your… other shoes… seemed too small, so I guessed two sizes up.”

For all her idiosyncrasies and quirks, Esme might have been one of the kindest people Alec had ever met. He had to admit, at first, he found her incredibly annoying, oddly similar to a brightly colored Simon Lewis mixed with Clary Fairchild. But now, he understood. If Rhiannon was anything like him, she would need someone to brighten her up, to remind her to take care of herself. Even protectors need caregivers.

“You have no idea how much I need those. Thank you so much. ” Alec suddenly became aware of how naked he was under the blankets, wearing only his underwear and a flimsy hospital gown. “Could you uh, give me a moment to change?”

Esme blushed again, making a quick exit for the door while squeaking out “Of course, how rude of me, I’ll give you your privacy! Come out when you’re done.”

The black long-sleeved shirt was a bit tighter than Alec normally wore his clothes, but the soft fabric felt familiar and safe. Keeping up with the shirt, the jeans were also a bit tight, fitting more like skinny jeans than his typical straight-cut. It wasn’t an issue; all shadowhunter clothes were stretchy enough to handle intense combat. The only downside was that his entire body was on display. As he glanced in the mirror above the sink, he wondered if that was a bad thing. I kinda look good... Esme had been kind enough to fetch him a utility jacket as well, with plenty of pockets for his things, affording an extra layer of bulk to protect his modesty.

The shoes fit well enough, although they weren’t new. Alec didn’t like to think about the fact that he was wearing someone else’s shoes, but it was a blessing that they were broken in. New boots would be almost as painful as the heels.

Magnus’ jewelry was collected in a small gauze bag, drawn closed with a satin ribbon. Jewelry was the warlock’s armor, Alec had never seen him without it. Each piece likely held a story well beyond Alec’s years, and he knew that it meant something to Magnus. With this in mind, he was more than a bit nervous about losing the small satchel, deciding it would be safer to wear the jewelry, even if it wasn’t his style. He slid on the rings, wrapping the choker around his wrist as a bracelet.  Alec didn’t know what to do with these clothes. They didn’t fit Magnus anymore, but he was sure the warlock could tailor them back down to his size with the flick of a wrist. It would be best to bring them back. Alec gathered the bundle of clothes in one arm and walked back out to meet Esme.

She was standing inches outside the door, stumbling back as it swung open. 

“Oh good! Everything fits!” Esme was proud of herself. “I brought you this.” She produced a large canvas satchel. “I figured you wouldn’t want to carry everything around, and this might help!” As she held it open for Alec to load the garments in, she noticed that Alec was wearing all of Magnus’ jewelry.

“You seem to think of everything, potions master. I really don’t know how to thank you.”

“It’s my pleasure, really. We never get guests. I needed some excitement around here.” She bit her lip, looking guilty for a brief moment. “There is one thing though…”

“Anything. What do you need?” Alec slung the satchel over his shoulder, cross-body.

“No I really shouldn’t…”

Alec threw her a skeptical look, conveying a sentiment along the lines of ‘spit it out’.

“Alright, so it might be silly, but I have to ask. You came in here dressed as Magnus Bane, wearing his signature rings, even the shoes he wore to Paris Fashion Week last year. And I mean if you two were together last night and you both did midli anything can happen, at least that’s what I tried to write it off as. But as I washed off your makeup while you were sleeping, a girl has to wonder...”

“What exactly are you asking?” Alec did not like where he thought this question was going. 

“Are you and Magnus… you know.” She looked side to side, making sure nobody was in the hall. “ Together.” Her whisper was louder than her speaking voice. “Like, do you like him…”

“Me and?” Alec shook his head, his wavy hair mussing up in the process.  “No, I mean, we work cases together. He’s quite magical. He’s a good friend…” Alec stumbled over the words. He couldn’t answer a question about his feelings for Magnus for himself, let alone to someone else. 

“Uh huh... Right then.” Esme turned, leading him back down the hall. It wasn’t the smoothest transition, but it gave her the chance to hide her face and mask her uncontrollable grin. She got the answer she wanted. 

“I was wondering if I could send a fire message? I need to get in contact with my parabatai, let him know that all of us were drugged last night.” Alec called down the hall after her. I need to let him know that he drugged us. Esme was snaking around the halls, and Alec had to rush to keep up. Damn, she’s actually pretty fast. 

“The good news is, if they didn’t take any more of the--” Now that they were in earshot of other shadowhunters, she used discretion, mouthing the word drug . “-- then they won’t need the antidote. You were just over the level for toxicity. But of course, I’ll take you to the ops room and you can draw one up in there. 

The main hall was still quiet, with Rhiannon huddled over a screen analyzing a map and talking into a small headset. Her keen senses alerted her of their approach, though, muting her mic and spinning around. 

“Alec, you’re looking better.” She looked him up and down, seeing him, in a way, for the first time. The man in front of her matched the Alec Lightwood she’d met at the academy-- all hunter, less makeup. “I hope my girlfriend didn’t give you too much trouble. She can get a bit excited around strangers.” 

“Quite the contrary, actually. No trouble at all, she’s quite helpful.” He paused for a second, thinking about how natural the girls were together. The amiable quips, the casual physical touch-- it struck a chord with Alec in a way he didn’t know was possible. “You’re a very lucky woman. You both have been so kind, but I do have one more favor to ask.”

“He needs to send a fire message to his parabatai Jace Wayland.” Esme piped in, rocking on her feet. Alec wasn’t surprised that she knew who his parabatai was, she seemed to know almost everything about the shadowhunter community. “Sorry, creepy, I know. But when you’re a shadowhunter-in-exile, you spend a lot of time absorbing whatever gossip you can. Including the ledgers of parabatai pairs.”

“We can just ignore that last bit.” The dark-haired girl rolled her green eyes, chuckling. “Just follow me, I’ll lend you a stele and let you send the message.”

Alec scribbled out a message to his parabatai.

 

Jace,

I’m at the Toronto institute. 

Meet me here within the hour if you need a portal back to New York.

 

He added the address before sending it in a wave of fire. 

All that was left was to wait. The tiny institute was starting to feel suffocating, sending Alec to retreat to the back garden. Like everything else, it was quaint compared to home, but it was gorgeous. The yard was narrow, surrounded by tall stone walls, roses climbing over them attached to trellises. Despite the chill in the air, each flower was still in peak bloom. 

Probably some of Esme’s potion work… Alec thought fondly. Seeing downworlder arts mixed with shadowhunter culture was inspiring. They would never be so tolerant at the New York institute.

Alec wished he had his pack of cigarettes. In stressful moments like this, he would sneak away to the roof of the institute to have a smoke. The duration of one cigarette was the perfect amount of time to sit with his own thoughts. He remembered the first time he tried it. He was out in the field with Jace and Izzy. They thought it might be fun to try, an easy way to occupy themselves while they did surveillance, but his siblings hadn’t taken to it. Alec pretended to hate it too, but secretly he loved the quiet routine of it all. Since then, it had been his secret-- a safe place for his thoughts. He’d never shared it with anyone.

Right now though, he didn’t have his vice. All he had was his lighter, which he kept flicking to life. The heat warmed his fingers, the dial growing uncomfortably hot. He loved the burn.

He wondered if he used it last night, and where his pack of cigarettes had gone. Maybe they were with whoever had his jacket. 

They’re probably with Magnus.

 


 

Simon was in a state of disbelief. He was so shocked by what he was seeing on his phone that he hit the ‘refresh’ button multiple times. But the picture on Magnus’ Instagram wouldn’t go away. It was real.

It was a selfie of Magnus and Alec, cigarettes in hand, Magnus laughing at a joke that nobody else would hear, Alec kissing the warlock on the cheek.

 

The caption: 

Kiss me like one of your French girls.


Chapter Text

Gathering in a semicircle on the sidewalk, the restless group was a cacophony of sighs, a case study in fidgeting, and a three act performance of dancing around the question. No single person was willing to broach the subject, but eventually someone would have to.

Izzy twirled a golden lock in her finger, fascinated by how the color glinted in the sunlight. Clary was tracing designs on a dirty car window. Jace massaged his wrist, working out residual stiffness from his slumber on the floor. Lydia examined her nail beds, gently pushing back her cuticles, and Magnus was toying with the sleeve of Alec’s invisible jacket. 

Eventually, it was Lydia who cracked.

“We can’t keep avoiding this.” The authority in her voice threatened to make an appearance, but her exhaustion made it nearly impossible to muster any semblance of her normal demeanor. “Magnus, you still are unable to track Alec, yes?”

Magnus scowled, crossing his arms and looking toward the sky. He was just as frustrated with himself as everyone else, but he did not like the way she implied his skills were lacking.

“I want to make it known that I am absolutely able to track him, I’m the most competent warlock in this continent, but he’s behind so many wards that to my magic, it seems like he’s everywhere all at once.”

Lydia was hoping that somewhere between Magnus leaving brunch and the group returning, a new and hopeful development arose, but that clearly wasn’t the case. She squared her shoulders, turning to the blonde shadowhunter.

“Jace, you’ve been relatively silent on the parabatai bond.” Lydia clenched her jaw, losing patience with Jace before he even spoke. 

“No I haven’t, like I said, I know he’s not in danger, I can tell that wherever he is, he’s okay.”

Izzy’s face crumpled in confusion, suddenly realizing some important details of the parabatai bond that Jace hadn’t mentioned at all.

“Wait, brother.” She took a step closer. “If there’s something you’re not telling us, I will never let you live it down. If Alec’s here, and if he’s on land, shouldn’t you have been able to track him this whole time? Why didn’t you know he was in the police station? Why don’t you know where he is now?”

“Cool it, Iz.” Jace scratched at his side, fingers grazing over the spot where his parabatai rune sat. “First off, if Alec is behind wards, the parabatai tracking usually wouldn’t work anyway. Second…” He rubbed a hand over his face, groaning lightly. “I don’t drink often-- hardly ever. Especially not that much. I think it dulled the bond somehow, it’s not as strong as it normally is. I didn’t bring it up because I thought you guys might worry more, not trust that I was saying he was okay.”

Clary waxed sympathetic, but she knew Jace was right. If they’d known the bond was compromised, the group would have panicked. From everything she learned about parabatai since her introduction to Shadowhunter culture, she found it hard to believe that alcohol would even dull that sense. The situation suddenly seemed less and less normal. 

“How the hell did we drink so much that a parabatai bond would be compromised?” Clary searched the expressions of her companions for answers. “I’m new to all of this parabatai stuff, but I thought it was much stronger than a few drinks…”

Something clicked for Magnus at her statement, his dark eyes glimmering.

“Unless we didn’t just have a few drinks. Why didn’t I see it before?” The warlock started pacing back and forth, raking his fingers through his magenta tipped hair. “ Stupid, old, scatterbrained warlock. You’re getting dense with age.” He mumbled, mostly to himself. 

Lydia jutted her chin forward, eyebrow raised, turning her head to the side as if listening for an explanation that wasn’t being given. 

“Are you going to share your revelation with the rest of us?” Lydia was looking impatient with the magical older man. Perhaps her overall patience was wearing thin; it was, after all, her wedding day.

“I have no recollection of last night’s events. None. Zero. Zilch.” Magnus stopped pacing.

“Neither do the rest of us,” Clary pointed out. “I don’t see how that’s a big deal…”

“Exactly!” Magnus booped her nose. “You got it biscuit.” Clary was looking at him like he was speaking a foreign language, which he was most certain he wasn’t. “ All of us lost our collective memories. Even me, even Simon.”

“The downworlders…” Izzy whispered, her mind racing to catch up with Magnus’ train of thoughts. “Downworlders can still get drunk, but in all my biochemistry studies, I’ve never read of a warlock or vampire having such a human response to alcohol.”

“It’s even uncommon for nephilim.” Lydia confirmed. “There are stories about it happening, normally teenagers going to excess, but it rarely happens.”

“There’s only one explanation for this then…” Magnus trailed. “We were drugged.” 

In a mutual, unspoken agreement of defeat, they all moved to the edge of the sidewalk, sitting against the side of the building. 

“You mean we were like… roofied?” Clary offered.

“Not quite, mundane drugs like that wouldn’t affect a vampire or warlock.” Magnus clarified. “Trust me, in the 70’s-- 1970’s-- Ragnor and I tried everything out of extreme boredom. It happens when you’re immortal.” 

“If you tried everything, then did you ever take something that made you lose your memories?” Clary asked. 

“I think the more important question here is why someone would drug us.” Lydia started calculating scenarios in her head, reasons why their enemies would want to take advantage of the group of predominantly shadowhunters.

“As the one with the most experience partying like a mundane--” Clary started.

“Tsk tsk ginger biscuit. You are too young to have partied so much. Besides, I might be a crotchety old warlock, but much of my partying was spent the normal, fun, reckless  mundane way.”

“What I was trying to say was that someone probably slipped something in our drinks.”

Izzy wasn’t satisfied with that statement.

“No, that doesn’t make sense.” She was met with puzzled glances. “I don’t remember things well before Lydia arrived. But she was affected too. That  would mean someone drugged our drinks before and after she got here. 

“That is true, when I joined you guys, you were at the Thai restaurant.” Lydia added.

“Yeah, the last thing I remember is being at the bar where we ambushed Alec…” Jace chuckled. 

“So what,” Clary was on alert, her leg bouncing against the curb. “Someone followed us around, drugging each person who joined?”

“That seems unlikely.” Magnus rubbed his temples in thought. “I’m familiar with all sorts of espionage schemes, but the motive here doesn’t pan out. If someone wanted something, they would have drugged the original bachelor party group and left it at that. There would be no reason to follow you around and drug other people.”

“There has to be something we all did that links us together. Something we each did, right before we lost our memories.” Lydia seemed out of her depth. Usually she would see through a mystery like this easily. Maybe it was the hangover, but she wasn’t seeing a solution to this at all. This is probably why they won’t give you your own institute. She berated herself. You can’t even find your fiance, how could you ever hunt down rogue warlocks, demons, or something as serious as Valentine Morgenstern.

Pulling her out of the shame spiral, Isbelle took a turn for pragmatism, replacing her normal dramatism. 

“The last thing I remember, I was still brunette, and Jace had just finished that awful toast about wolves or something like that.”

“Wait, Izzy, you didn’t get that reference?” Clary giggled. “Come on, I know you guys don’t get out a lot, but you haven’t seen The Hangover ?”

 

Crickets.

 

“Jace, you’re the one who made the speech? You had to have seen the movie…”

“I made that up on my own, Clary.” He had no idea what mundane movie she was talking about. It was a dupe for the speech from the movie, and it made Clary feel bad for Jace if he came up with something that stupid by his own accord. 

“Simon would be so mad at you guys if he wasn’t stuck up in the loft right now.” She shook her head. “I would explain, but I’ve given up on explaining references to you all.”

“We need to stay on task.” Lydia warned. “Magnus, you weren’t there with them from the beginning, right?”

Magnus widened his eyes just a bit, his thoughts flashing back to the last scenes of the night he remembers. Clary and Isabelle gave him knowing looks, their eyes darting between the warlock and Lydia. Use discretion, Magnus.  The voice in his head agreed with the girls unspoken plea. Alexander’s actions last night were likely the product of alcohol or drugs. You don’t need to tell this poor girl how you were dirty dancing and holding hands with her fiance. Somewhere deep in his subconscious, the voice of the recently deceased Ragnor Fell clawed to the surface. Drunk actions are just sober desires, my dear friend. 

He shook off the intrusion by his dead friend. Of course Ragnor would tease me about my crush on the shadowhunter right now, while he’s missing, and I’m stuck looking for him with his fiancee. Whom he is marrying today.

Any attempt to be discreet was thwarted by the long and awkward pause. Magnus swallowed, his mouth suddenly feeling dry.

“Magnus?” Lydia’s suspicion grew.

“My apologies. I was having a senior moment. ” He made an attempt to chuckle, but it still came off as dodgy. He needed a vice to continue this conversation, snapping his fingers to summon an already-lit cigarette from the box tucked away in Alexander’s coat. “What was it you were asking?”

Isabelle eyed him cautiously. Really smooth. She mouthed while Lydia wasn’t looking.

“Lydia was politely asking you the last thing you remember, so would you care to share?” Isabelle was having a bit of fun taunting him, but she also didn’t want to let him flounder. “And I don’t just mean share your part of the story, give me one of those.”

Magnus snapped, giving the Lightwood sister a cigarette. “Do not take this as me condoning the habit, my little Marilyn Monroe. ” He started combing his fingers down the wavy, platinum locks. “You’re just as much of a bombshell as the woman herself, and I’d know-- I once partied with her and JFK--”

“Magnus, enough of the name dropping.” Lydia cut him off. “Answer the question.”

“Alright, alright.” He held up both hands, a lit cig perched between his middle and ring fingers. “The last thing I remember, you guys showed up at Pandemonium, sat down at my owners table , unannounced and uninvited I might add. We drank some champagne, you guys were dancing, and then I went outside to have a smoke.” He took a puff, blowing the smoke in the opposite direction of the group. “And you, Miss Branwell, or should I say, soon-to-be Mrs.Lightwood?” He tried not to roll his eyes. He was growing bored of the current inquisition. 

“Clary messaged me to meet you at the Thai restaurant. I had some food, and I remember we started to get rowdy.” She left out the part where she made out with Clary Fairchild. It occurred to her right then that they were distant cousins, and it made her feel sick to her stomach. “If I was to assume our drinks were drugged, all I had was a bit of a beer and a few sips of whatever was in Jace’s flask.”

Eyes started to drill into Jace.

“Well isn’t that peculiar… before I joined you all on the dance floor, I took a swig from the flask as well. You were all so wasted that I needed to know what you’d been drinking. I get jealous when I see people having more fun than me.” He shrugged. “It only tasted like Jagermeister though… unless someone slipped something into it.”

The tips of Jace’s ears began to flare crimson.

“And that toast at the beginning of the night….” Clary started, Isabelle continuing the thought.

“You filled the shot glasses from your flask….” Isabelle stood up defensively, dragging Jace to his feet by the shirt. She clenched a graceful, tanned hand around his muscled neck. Everyone followed Izzy's lead, and soon Jace was pressed against the building, surrounded by three livid shadowhunters and a warlock.  To a bystander, they would be causing quite the scene, so Magnus had glamoured the group invisible so that no mundane was the wiser. It was rare for Jace to be cornered, to have the odds stacked so much against him. But he knew this wasn't a battle, he was getting served what he deserved. Wiggling loose from his sister's grip would have been easy, but he knew he was in the wrong. He simply braced himself for her wrath.

“Jace Wayland… did you drug us?” Magnus nearly growled. Jace squirmed-- he swore he saw a pair of golden cat eyes flash at him.

“What was in the flask, Jace?” Lydia was no-nonsense, her tone resolute and determined.

“Izzy, can you let go of me, you’re--” He tried to breathe. She wasn't playing around. “Choking--” She tightened her grip. “Me--”

“He has a point,” Clary appealed. “He can’t tell us if he can’t breathe.”

“Ugh, fine.” Izzy released her grip, letting his feet drop to the ground. 

“I thought it was just molly, guys. You know, the party drug?” The scarlet hue spread from his ears to his cheeks. 

“Pft.” Clary let out a single laugh. “Simon and I took molly before, I promise you that whoever you brought that from lied.” Everyone looked at Clary skeptically.

“I was an art school kid, remember?” None of them seemed satisfied with her answer. “Simon was in a band?”

“Simon doesn’t scream sex, drugs and rock & roll to me biscuit.” Magnus rolled his eyes at the thought of Simon Lewis partying and having a good time doing anything other than being a bookish vampire. “But I’ll take your word for it.”

“Who did you buy this party drug from?” Lydia pushed the others out of the way, making herself the person he was face-to-face with. She was tired of the banter and just wanted answers. 

“My downworlder contact. The same one I contact for truth serum, potion ingredients, antivenom.” His voice was fast, rambling along.

“What made you think he would have mundane drugs?” Izzy narrowed her chocolate eyes. Her adopted brother was dumb, but he was usually smarter than this. 

“If he can get mermaid hair, I- I- figured he could get anything!” He stammered. “I swear to you, on the Angel, he promised it was molly. I only put it in the alcohol because I knew Alec would never go for it otherwise. It seemed totally safe!”

Nobody was amused. 

“Jace,” Lydia seethed. “You might be Alec’s parabatai , but even though your hearts beat as one, clearly your brains don’t think as one. You are the biggest idiot I have ever met.”

“It was probably midli. ” Magnus snapped out of a moment of thought. “Midli, like middlemist essence. The name sounds like molly, its tasteless, dissolves in liquids, causes memory loss in downworlders.”

“Well, at least you are putting your partying warlock lothario skills to good use.” Lydia smirked, tossing her ponytail over her shoulder. “It didn’t take you long to figure that out. Since you’re the expert, is there any way to get our memories back? That way we can maybe have more of an idea where Alec is?”

“With midli, the memories will come back in pieces. You’ll just get someone else’s memories back. It forces you to talk about all the embarrassing antics as a group, people use it to bond. It’s actually a great choice for a bachelor party…” Magnus mused, much to the dismay of the group. “... if you know what you’re getting into of course.”

“Drugging us was a really childish move, Jace, and I’m sure Alec will be thrilled to hear about it.” Izzy chided, already bracing herself for the fight that would unravel between the two. 

“Guys, I’m sorry. I know I messed up. But I don’t think the memories would help us find Alec right now, and if Magnus and I can’t track him, then I don’t know what else there is we can do. We can’t cover the entirety of the city.” He looked into Isabelle’s eyes, searching for an iota of forgiveness or sympathy for his misstep.  “It’s already noon, we need to call mom and tell her that the wedding isn’t going to happen today.”

“Jace is right.” Lydia sat back down on the sidewalk, burying her head between her knees. The posture slightly muffled her voice “The normally poised woman looked like she was finally going to break. “There’s no way this wedding is going to happen today. We’re in Toronto, we still can’t find Alec, and we only have five hours left. Even if we found him right now, how would we get ready in time?” 

“That settles it then.” Magnus clapped his hands. “Para bro tai-- go make the call. I’ll walk around the corner to see if there’s somewhere secluded I can make a portal. I can easily glamour us invisible, but it’s inconvenient to glamour a portal.” With that he strode off, disappearing around the block. 

Jace pulled out his phone and reluctantly tapped in Maryse Lightwood’s number.

“Maryse, It’s Jace….” He stepped a few feet away from the group, giving him space to make his appeal to his adoptive mother. Clary sank down beside Lydia, offering her a modicum of comfort. They couldn’t hear what he was saying, but Clary knew it couldn’t be easy for Lydia to watch her wedding being called off. They sat there in silence until a few minutes later, when Jace grabbed Izzy, pressing the phone to her palm. “Mom wants to talk to you miss bachelor party planner.”

“How did she take it?” Clary stared up to Jace. “I’m assuming not very well?”

“Clary, you could tell her she just won a million dollars and she wouldn’t take it well. So yes, it’s a disaster.” Their mission had been a failure, they couldn’t find Alec. Jace felt this failure more than anyone, it was his parabatai after all, and all he wanted to do was sink down with the girls and curl into a ball, joining Lydia in wallowing. Thank the angel we are glamored, or all of this emotional display would be really embarrassing.

Right before he sank to the ground to sit, a ball of fire appeared before his face. A fire message.

“Oh my god, do you think it’s from--” Clary jumped to her feet, pulling Lydia up with her. 

“We’ll see..” Jace cautiously opened the message. In Alec’s handwriting, it said his parabatai was at the Toronto institute, and if they didn’t join him in an hour, he’d leave to go back to New York.

“Wait, this is amazing! He’s going home! We don’t have to call off the wedding!” He sprinted to Izzy, snapping the phone from her hand. “Mom- Maryse- I was joking before, we found Alec. The wedding is still on. We’ll all be there within an hour to get ready. Love you, bye!”

Before she could protest, he ended the call. As if on cue, Magnus rounded the corner to rejoin everyone. 

“I found an alley one block down that will be discreet for a portal--” He noticed there had been a dramatic shift in the group’s energy. They’d been somber and deflated when he left, but now they buzzed with a nervous anticipation. “I missed something, didn’t I?”

“The wedding is still on!” Jace was nearly jumping up and down. “Alec’s at the Toronto institute! We’re going to pull this all together guys! I didn’t ruin everything!” He was uncharacteristically giddy, and Magnus didn’t like it. Moreover, Magnus was less than ecstatic about the news of the wedding being back on. 

“So I assume we’re heading over to the Toronto institute then?” Clary inquired.

“If memory serves…” Lydia grabbed the phone, typing an address into the maps app. “Just as i thought. The institute is about an hour’s walk from here. By the time we make it, Alec will already be leaving.”

“We could take a cab?” Izzy tried.

“With traffic, that could take even longer, and I don’t think now is the time to learn the mass transit system either.” Magnus quipped. In earnest, he just wanted to be out of this situation as soon as possible, portalling everyone back to New York so he could cozy up at home with a depression cocktail. “I’ll open a portal for you all to New York, and I’ll go back and fetch the vampire from my penthouse.”

Chapter Text

Woosh

 

The rush of air caught Simon off guard, a portal appearing near the penthouse door. He shuddered, scrambling to sit up from his awkward position on the couch. He’d been going through his phone for hours, looking at Instagram, his camera roll, Twitter.  Hours passed him by, facilitated by the completely covered windows. 

Simone , I’ve returned…” Magnus huffed. Everyone else was back in New York, rushing to get Alexander’s wedding back together, but here he was-- running the errand to fetch the fifth-wheeling vampire. A squeaky fifth wheel. 

“Magnus, hi-- oh gosh did you find Alec?” Simon tried to stand, but he was stopped by a firm push to the shoulder.  Magnus plopped next to him on the couch, kicking his feet up on the coffee table. 

“He’s fine, probably back in New York right now getting into his tux.” He grimaced at the thought that the suit was likely some ill-tailored number from a no-name mass-market brand. Anything other than a bespoke designer-- preferably Ted Baker-- was an insult to Alec’s toned physique. Magnus waved his arm around above his head, the apartment returning to a pristine condition. “Are you thirsty?” It turned out to not be a question, a dark red glass of blood fitting into the vampire’s hand. Magnus had a glass of whiskey, filled to an improper depth. 

Simon took a cautious sip from the glass. Normally he drank animal blood mixed into bloody mary's, but he knew the unmuddled taste wasn’t extremely pleasant. This was delicious, the flavor complex and sweet, reminiscent of raspberry ganache truffles. 

“Hold on, this isn’t…” He raised his eyebrows, his breath shaking and face growing a lighter shade of white. “No, please tell me it’s not. I’ve only been a vampire for a few weeks and I’m already breaking the accords?” With each word, the tone in his voice crept higher. 

“Don’t you worry your toothless little undead head.” Even though he seemed exhausted, there was a softness in his voice. “I might have stolen that from one of Camille’s highly illegal blood bank fridges she hides in her numerous residences.” He scoffed, chuckling a bit. A hint of a smile flashed across his face. “This was from a flat in Amsterdam that is still technically in my name, although she made it very clear I wasn’t welcome there anymore by having a warlock ward it against me.” The whiskey was draining quickly from his glass, each sip more bold than the last. “I learned that the hard way by trying to portal there two years ago. I got bounced right into a frigid canal.” He shivered, downing the last of his glass. It immediately refilled.

“Uh wow that’s… a lot. I knew Camille sucked-- no pun intended-- but dang. ” Simon was nursing his blood, trying not to moan at the taste. “And I’m not toothless anymore, just so you know.” He smiled big, showing off his freshly grown fang. “It came back about an hour ago. Vampire healing is insane .”

“Trust me, I’m familiar. She used to have a kink for knife play in the 1790’s-- ever since she took an interest in the guillotine killings of the French revolution…” He sighed, unaware of Simon’s complete bewilderment. 

How do I respond to that? Simon was searching for a way to respond that was appropriate yet sensitive. He wasn’t sure what the protocol was for discussing a sociopathic, hundred year old vampire ex-girlfriend. That’s so… She’s so…  it’s just so….

“Barbaric? Isn’t she?” Magnus quipped. He resigned himself to the fact that he was being a sad drunk, clumsily crossing his legs and sinking further into the couch.  “See, that’s why I just don’t open myself up to relationships anymore.” He stared up at the ceiling, swirling his drink in contemplation. “I’ve had my shares of epic romances, some good, some bad, some utterly disastrous. After a few centuries, I’ve surely seen it all.”

“I’ve always wondered, how many relationships have you had?” Simon knew it was a rude question, but he couldn’t help himself. After all, Magnus frequently referred to himself as a ‘ freewheeling bisexual’ .

“That’s rather… bold of you to ask.” Magnus was perplexed. Usually the ex-mundane wasn’t so direct.

“Hey! I’m bold… adjacent.” Vampires couldn’t blush, but if he could, Simon would have.

“I’ll entertain the question.” He winked. “I’ve lost track over time, but it’s somewhere around sixteen, seventeen thousand.” The warlock stared off into the distance, nursing his beverage. Simon started to do some math in his head.

“So if you’re about 300 years old, then that means you were with about 57 people per year… which is approximately a new person every… six days!?”

“There are numerous things wrong with that statement.” He raised a finger in defense, counting off his explanations. “First: again with the boldness Simon Lewis. Rather bold of you to assume I don’t lie about my age. I lie generously. I’m more like 800 years old.” He raised another finger. “Second: Camille and I were not monogamous. For all the people she slept with, I slept with twice as many out of spite. Being with her… I had a lot of….. Pent up energy.” With a long sip of whiskey he held up a third finger. “Third: I was not with all of those people individually. Sometimes we… grouped up. Makes the number a bit smaller.” He upended the glass, finishing off his second. “Finally, not all of them were romantic relationships. Some of them were love, some of them were purely physical. When you’re as old as I am, the gravity of the situation seems less and less significant.”

“So the way you look at Alec…” He hesitated, drawing out the statement with a pause. “... that’s insignificant too?”  This deep into the conversation about Magnus’ romantic life, Simon wasn’t going to hold back, asking the question that had been eating away at him since the moment he first saw Magnus and Alec in the same room together. 

Magnus nearly spat out his third glass of whiskey. 

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” Magnus crossed his legs, angling himself away from Simon. 

The faint sound of fingers tapping against a touch screen filled the silence. Magnus felt the couch cushion sink next to him, a weight pressing against his side. Simon reached his arm across the warlock, holding the phone to his face. Despite trying his damndest to look away, curiosity tugged at Magnus, and he had to give in. 

“Okay then, I guess this was just a fluke?” The vampire’s tone was flippant, taunting Magnus with whatever juicy detail was lurking on the phone screen. “If it was a fluke then there’s no reason for you to see it…” His arm flexed as he started to pull the phone away, but it didn’t move so far as an inch before Magnus grabbed his wrist to stop him. Simon was being cheeky, and if he wasn’t so flustered, Magnus would have called him out for it.

All the blood rushed from his head at once, his throat speeding through a 100 year drought in a matter of seconds. He felt dizzy, every possible combination of words failing him as his complete vocabulary took an unplanned vacation to warmer waters. In front of him was the photo of him and Alec in the alley, smiling, laughing, and smoking. And kissing. Alec was kissing me on the cheek, and I don’t even remember? In the photo, Magnus was laughing. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard. 

The post had more than one picture, he noticed by the three dots at the bottom of the image. Magnus wasn’t sure if he could handle seeing more, but before he could protest Simon swiped his finger to the next image.

Not just on the cheek… Magnus gasped, trying to keep his emotions internal. He failed miserably, conjuring a snicker from Simon.

“Still don’t know what I’m talking about?” Simon was rightfully smug. 

This photo was painful. Painfully hot though, Magnus thought to himself-- an objective remark to a very subjective action. Alec and Magnus were sharing a lip-lock, limbs clutching each other close. Tiny lines were etched in the corner of Alec’s eyes, like he was giggling as they kissed. Who took the picture? Magnus wondered. 

Simon started to pull the phone away, but Magnus slapped his hand. 

“Hey! What about the third picture!” The warlock whined.

“You probably don’t want to see it. It’s nothing super exciting, just--” Magnus ripped the phone from his hand. “Alright then… by all means, take my phone. If you insist…”

Magnus swiped to the third picture. 

It was Magnus and Alec, their backs to the camera, holding hands, jumping into a pool--  stark naked. He never thought that the first time he saw Alec naked would be in a photo; it almost felt dirty. From behind, Alec was all pale skin stretched over sinfully toned muscles, painted beautifully with graceful runes. His ass is beyond perfection. Magnus couldn’t help but stare. It was arguably one of the most adorably sexy things Magnus had ever seen. He couldn’t even get upset, instead erupting into a cacophony of giggles.

“I have to say, Lewis. I feel cheated that I remember none of this.” Magnus pinched his fingers, zooming in on the photo.

“Cheated?! I’m mortified. I’d rather die.” He groaned, grabbing a decorative pillow and burying his face in it. His words were mumbled by the bundle of down stuffing and silk fabric. Since he was loudly lamenting about his embarrassment, Magnus could still discern what he was saying. “I found more pictures from ‘Adventures in Skinny Dipping’ and I mean… even I don’t want to see myself that way.” 

“More pictures you say… ?” Magnus sprang up, sprinting across the room with the phone. “Don’t mind me, I’m just going to look through all of them! ” He was halfway through navigating to Simon’s camera roll when his body was frozen in place; he felt his mind being pulled somewhere else. Back on the couch, Simon sat up sharply, his eyes rolling back in his head.  Oh shit. I forgot to mention the flashbacks to Simon. Everything went black. 

 


 

“If we Naruto run, the bullets won’t hit us!” Simon yelled. Well rather, Magnus heard Simon’s voice coming from his own mouth. Vaguely aware he was in a flashback, he remembered that with midli, the memories you recovered were not just someone else’s, they were from their perspective. He was thankful to be a warlock-- the magical control giving him extra leverage and awareness in this situation. 

“Simon! They’re just security guards, they probably don’t even have guns!” Clary was sprinting in bare feet, clutching a pineapple. “I didn’t even get to make my poolside pina coladas!”

Isabelle and Lydia were holding hands, skipping at a speed that was frankly unsafe. Lydia yelled in an undignified timbre. “We’re going to go where their laws can’t stop us!” 

Isabelle squealed in response, following up with a gleeful refrain. “And where guns are illegal .” 

“Mundanes and their guns. Guns are for cowards!” Jace yelled, jumping onto Alec’s back for a piggy back ride. Alec’s hair was wet, plastered to his forehead in dark waves. He was wearing all of Magnus’ clothes, and it was definitely a different look. Everything was at least two sizes too small, and Magnus cringed at the thought of the delicate fabric ripping. 

Through Simon’s eyes, he saw himself running beside the archer, swimming in Alec’s utilitarian garb. He struggled to keep up with the shadowhunters and the vampire, panting and laughing the entire time.

“Guys, I think we are far enough away now.” Magnus slowed. “Regardless, if I don’t fix these clothes, I’m going to trip and fall.” Alec was the only one who slowed with Magnus, much to Jace’s dismay.

“PARABATAI! We have to keep goinggg! We have to outrun the mundane police!” He beat his wrists against Alec’s shoulders like an angry gorilla. Alec plopped him down by shucking him over his shoulders and bending over. Jace sprinted ahead of the rest of the group.  

Simon, to Magnus’ dismay, kept sprinting forward, but his heightened vampire senses gave him the advantage of hearing Magnus and Alec’s conversation behind him. 

“Here, let me just resize these for you…” A snap clicked through the quiet late-night atmosphere. “And I can’t have you running around with your hair looking like that, darling-- no matter how adorable it is…” Another snap. “And just a little bit of makeup, to complete the look…”

“Magnus….” Alec huffed. Even though he couldn’t see the expression on his face, he could tell that the shadowhunter was smiling, probably one of his signature cockeyed grins.  “Do I at least look pretty?”

 


 

The warlock snapped back to reality, as did Simon.

“Well, that was definitely not so Raven.” Simon bellowed. “I just had the weirdest out of body experience. I was like… You? And we were running? Jace kept talking about the cops? Is this a vampire hangover thing, or what?”

“It’s one of the side effects of midli . We were drugged last night. By Jace.”

“And you’re just mentioning this now?”

“I was going to tell you when I came in, but I got too distracted by all of your Instagramming!”

“To be fair-” Simon started.

“I had the same flashback. The whole jist of it is that we will get back our memories from last night, but not from our own perspective. We get back memories from the people we spent time with last night. So we just got back the same memory, but you had it from my perspective and I got it-- frustratingly I might add-- from your perspective.”

“I mean, not to intrude on your thing with Alec but… damn, he does look good in eyeliner.”

Magnus scowled, marching back over to the sofa. He was on a mission, and Simon wasn’t sure what that entailed. The warlock’s face was emotionless, stone serious-- like a commander leading a battalion. Oh shit. Is he going to beat me up for hitting on Alec? Is he going to open the blinds in the apartment? Is he going to portal away and leave me here forever?  

“Unfair, vampire. Painfully, terribly unfair.” Magnus growled, before laughing at how frightened the fledgling was by his sudden display of severity. “It was completely unfair that you got to see something that mouthwatering, and you’re going to tell me all about it.” He sat close to Simon, sheepishly handing him back his cell phone. “Now, the screen locked during our little blackout.” He grabbed Simon’s hand, pressing his thumb over the home button. “I haven’t forgotten about those other pictures.

Chapter Text

The institute was bustling, the smell of fresh gardenia arrangements flooding the normally sterile halls. A reserved melody echoed off the stone walls, a string quartet practicing traditional shadowhunter ceremonial songs while they tuned their instruments. Wedding preparations were well underway, despite the detail that entire wedding party was missing in action all morning. Magnus, unfortunately, could only make portals to places he’d been before, and the most discreet part of the institute he’d been to was a hallway barely off the ops room. To walk back to the living quarters, they’d have to pass offices, training rooms, and common spaces-- plenty of opportunities to draw unwanted attention to themselves. 

“So guys, just act cool, okay?” Jace said, overly confident, puffing out his chest and squaring his shoulders.

Act cool , brother?” Izzy glowered. “Act cool, like we didn’t just portal out of Toronto, still with no idea why we were there in the first place?”

“Yeah, totally cool, all of us didn’t just magically appear together clumped into a group… nothing suspicious about that…” Clary mumbled.

“And we still don’t have Alec…” Lydia added.

“We all need to look on the bright side here!” Jace took a hard left down the hall. “We are already here, Alec is on his way back. We still have four hours to get ready for the wedding.” He turned around, walking backwards toward the bedrooms. “We got this! The wedding is still going to happen! Can you guys act more excited?”

They couldn’t act excited if they tried, insulted that Jace had the audacity to imply he might be enjoying this whole experience. 

“Woo…” Clary gave half-hearted jazz hands. 

“Hooray, maybe the dignified Maryse Lightwood won’t murder us.” Izzy rolled her eyes, entirely finished with Jace’s positivity. Even if she found out Jace had drugged Alec, he was their mother’s favorite, nearly beyond reproach. Of course he wouldn't be worried about her wrath. Isabelle, on the other hand, was liable to get a stern scolding for taking Alec out for a bachelor party in the first place. She was already bracing herself for the scathing lecture that was certainly in store. 

Lydia cut into the awkward silence that followed, not wanting to deal with Jace’s positivity much longer. 

“Come on then girls, let’s all get ready in my room.” Lydia pulled them into what she was pretty sure was Isabelle’s room, leaving Jace alone in the hall to fend for himself. As the door slammed behind them, they let out a collective sigh.

“I didn’t think it was possible for my brother to be any more annoying.” Izzy strode to her bed, grabbing the purse that she’d stashed there the night before. She cautiously upended it, unsure of what would fall out. Five steles, an assortment of makeup, two bags of gummy worms, and a collection of photo booth strips decorated her bed. She snatched up her stele, passing it over her iratze to stave off the lingering effects of her magical hangover.

“Oh my god, that’s a wonderful idea.” Clary stomped over, following suit, Lydia shortly thereafter. 

“I’m still so exhausted.” Lydia laid down on Isabelle’s bed. It was strange to see the uptight head of the institute acting so casually, even after everything that happened. “I have no idea how I’m going to get through this today.”

“Lydia, I’m going to be honest for a second--” Isabelle started, before the three girls froze. They were thrust into a collective memory. Most of them got a vague impression of the event, but for Lydia, she was pulled into the perspective of Magnus Bane. Back in Toronto, Magnus also froze, his mind finding its way into Alec’s memory. 

 


 

“Magnus it’s never going to be uncool that you live on top of Pandemonium.” Clary giggled.

“Biscuit, I don’t anymore. We are on a different block, overlooking the East River.” Magnus corrected.

“Immmmpossible…” She slurred. “We were just at Pandemonium a few hours ago.” 

“Shhh jushhht shush--” Alec pressed a finger to her lips. “We went SO MANY places-- you don’t even know. Magnus--” He removed his finger, pointing over to the warlock who was still wearing Alexander’s clothes. “-- he’s MAGICAL. Like….” Alec waved his hands in a large circle, a hyperbole of Magnus’ motion to make a portal. “Wooosshhhhh… portals.” Alec’s hazel eyes were wide in wonder.  

“Ohmygod!” Clary smacked her forehead with her palm. “I’m such a dumb mundane . I totally forgot about the whole---” She wiggled her arms around, shimmying her shoulders. “-- magic high warlock thing.”

“Not high enough darlings!” Magnus cheered, twirling around the living room holding an enormous, green-glass hookah. “I figured it’s just about the right point in the evening to bust out my stash of shisha… that I may or may not have blended with only the finest, hand picked, organic cannabis sativa.

With another spin, the room around him transformed into a circle of plush silk floor cushions, situated around a low mahogany table. Intricately carved dragons snaked up and down the wooden legs, dancing around the edge of the table onto the surface, replaced with gorgeous inlay designs. The hookah itself was gilded, adorned with various precious gemstones that, judging by the way their faceted cuts caught the light, were unmistakably real. Curtains of gossamer fabric cascaded down from the loft’s exposed rafters, creating nooks and crannies of privacy in the open space, making the smoking circle intimate and warm. 

Whoa…. ” Simon cooed. “It’s so-”

“LAVISH!” Izzy squealed, scampering over and throwing herself onto a cushion. “It looks like-”

“Like the Riad Sultan in Morocco where I spent fabulous nights in… oh what decade was it, I’m too old to remember. Who cares!” He threw both arms in the air, smoke delicately blooming inside the glass vase. “It’s time to party!”

“Magnus…” Jace furrowed his brow, his voice serious. He looked lost, bewildered, like he was caught in a reality he didn’t quite understand. “We have been partying this whole time. I thought that’s what we were doing.” Jace pulled his flask from his jacket, downing another swig. “Wait what are we doing again?”

“Just sit your pretty little blonde head down--” Lydia sat, Jace stayed standing. “No not you, you.” He pointed to Jace. “Lydia, doll, you are far too divine to be called something so simple as pretty. Pretty is for flattery and appeasement only.”

Soon, everyone gathered around the table, delicate china cups appearing. The cinnamon clove smell of spiced chai mixed with the shisha and weed, enveloping the room in an exotic, intoxicating scent. Everything blended together in a cloud of luxurious excess.

“I cannnn’t believe you’ve never smoked before, Jacey.” Clary taunted. “I’m more badass than Jace guys. Did you know that?” Although the caffeine in the chai helped lift a bit of the slur from her drunken speech, the high was taking effect making her voice grow uncomfortably loud. Everyone ignored her except Jace, incredibly insulted.

“I’ll show you!” He yanked the hose from her hand, sucking in an aggressive breath. He fell into a chorus of choking coughs, much to everyone’s amusement.

“Even Lydia is cooler than you.” Simon pointed out. “No offense Lydia, you just seemed a little…”

“Uptight? Like there’s a stele up my ass? Like someone pissed in my power-pumps?” She gently inhaled another puff from the hose on her side, holding it in for an extended moment before exhaling. She spoke through the exhale, her voice deep. “Don’t worry-- no offense taken. I’m self-aware.”

The conversation continued, a mixture of bashing Jace, bonding over their shared high school rebellions, and recounting to Lydia the horrendous things that went down earlier at karaoke before she joined them. 

Magnus and Alec weren’t paying much attention to the chatter, hogging the third hose from their shared cushion. Magnus took a long pull, balancing the mouthpiece between his ring and middle fingers. Alec leaned in closer, the warlock holding out his hand to pass the hose. Much to Magnus’ surprise, the shadowhunter grabbed him by the cheeks, breathing in the smoke he exhaled. They shared the breath, shared the pleasant high that was warming their bodies. Their bodies simmered, threatening to melt together.

Alec wrapped his long arms around the older man’s waist, sliding him into his lap. As Alec readjusted his hips, Magnus dismissively waved a hand, a bolt of gossamer pulling down to hide them off from everything else. On the other side of the curtain, the hose fell to the floor, abandoned.

Hey...” Alec whispered, eyes flickering for a minuscule second to take in their newfound privacy.

“Hey…” Magnus returned with a giggle.

“We’re a little…” 

“Stoned? Drunk? Both? Faded is what the kids are calling it these days I believe.” Magnus offered. “Here, this will make you feel a little bit better.” He touched their foreheads together, a magical trick he learned from Ragnor over a century ago. He took in a deep breath, gathering all the focus he had into the gesture. Some of Alec’s inebriation passed into him, a loose feeling flowing through his veins. “It shares the intoxication, makes us the same degree of wasted.” Magnus pulled away by a few inches. “It levels the playing field.”

“You just look so….” The shadowhunter’s eyes scanned over Magnus’ face. 

“If anyone’s look deserves comment, it’s you Alexander.” Magnus brought up his hand to trace the shape of Alec’s cheekbone, ghosting the outline of his lower eyelid. “I know it was a fluke, that we grabbed the wrong clothes, and it’s not your style, but the color of your hazel eyes, outlined in the dark kohl is just--”

He cut off Magnus, crashing his lips into the warlock. They kissed like that for a few impatient seconds, Magnus cradled in the shadowhunter’s arms. Velvet tongues slid together, each slow motion taunting their mutual hunger.

Magnus took the first primal move, spreading his thighs to straddle Alec on the cushion. His arms linked around the tall boy, pulling him in so that every contour of their clothing-swapped torsos was flush. Instinct begged the warlock to grind down onto the archer’s groin, to bellow the coals of the fire burning in his core. He was in no condition to fight the urge, and neither was Alec, his hips bucking up slightly to meet the warlock’s. Strong hands, fingers calloused from years of handling arrows, reached under Magnus’ shirt, gripping the caramel skin of his hip bones. Alec’s grip was strong and steady, as Magnus felt the touch dig deep into his muscle. The pinch skirted the line between pain and pleasure that he knew Alec was too naive to navigate, but nonetheless drove him wild with want.

They continued to kiss, a tangle of limbs migrating horizontally flat onto the floor. First, they were fisting the fabric of their clothes; next their shirts were off, grinding together skin-to-skin. Alec pinned Magnus to the ground by his wrists in an unprecedented display of dominance. Through his inebriated mind, Magnus wasn’t surprised, but any complex commentary he would normally have on the turn of events was muddled by his intense arousal. Similar was Alec’s normal trepidation, which stood no chance with the gorgeous man splayed out on the oriental rug beneath him, wearing only Alec’s own black jeans. 

The shadowhunter paused, biting his lip in a way that made Magnus consider if it was possible for a warlock to have a heart attack. Alec deftly spread one hand wide, linking Magnus’ wrists together and freeing his other hand. Still holding him down firmly, Alec’s free arm snaked down the contours of Magnus’ chest, slowing as he reached the waistband of  his jeans. He cupped the warlock’s growing bulge, a mutual sigh escaping their lips without breaking the kiss. It was torture; Magnus’ hands were dying to explore the archer’s body, but he was completely powerless, squirming against Alec’s hands as his touches grew bolder. When he felt the button on his jeans pop open, the zipper sliding down, he decided enough was enough.

In a flurry of motion, Magnus broke free of Alec’s one-handed grip, grabbing the shadowhunter by his broad shoulders and flipping him onto his back. As they rolled, the curtain that had been partially concealing them was tugged loose, cascading in a puddle to the floor. Neither man noticed, Magnus dipping into Alec for a kiss as he wiggled out of the jeans. Stopping to throw the shadowhunter a permissive glance, he needed a nudge of acknowledgement before continuing to destroy the shadowhunter’s innocence. 

Alec met his eyes, nodding confidently, giving Magnus all the encouragement he needed to make quick work of the fastenings of Alec’s slacks. 

“Oh my god… Alec?” Clary gasped.

“Guys… shhhhh…. Don’t let them know we can see.” Jace reached out to cover Clary’s mouth with his hand. “I think my parabatai is about to get some.”

The couple scrambled, their reaction delayed from a combination of the drugs and their extreme desire. It suddenly hit them that their entire escapade had happened mere feet from everyone else. Their privacy had only been an illusion.  Alec hastily wrapped himself in the curtain that had fallen to the floor, failing to regain even an ounce of composure. The gesture only resulted in him looking like an intoxicated Roman senator. 

Magnus didn’t bother to cover himself, standing proudly in his liquid-tight maroon boxer briefs. 

“You know what I think would be a fabulous idea children?” He stepped closer to the table, taking a protective stance in front of Alexander. “Remember that wonderful idea you had earlier, goldfinch?” He looked at Lydia. “The one where the Lightwoods and Branwells would still lead the institute if you eloped with the gorgeous Isabelle?”

Lydia blushed, her gaze longingly slipping to meet Izzy’s. “Of course I do. She’s strong, beautiful, confident… and a much better kisser than her brother.”

Magnus raised an eyebrow inquisitively at the last statement, taking a mental note to talk to Alec about that later when he didn’t have deflowering the oldest Lightwood sibling on the brain.

“Yes, yes that idea. Well I know of the cutest little chapel in Niagara Falls that’s still open at this hour.” Magnus snapped his fingers, Lydia’s wedding dress appearing in her arms. “Why don’t I portal you to my loft in Toronto, only about a 40 minute uber from Niagara. You can get dressed, get married or whatever, and Alec and I will meet you there… later.”

Magnus didn’t wait for a response, opting to immediately open the portal. 

“Remember, you’re going to my loft in Toronto, I take no responsibility for you ending up in limbo if you forget where you’re going.” He didn’t look behind him, instead turning to grab Alec by the hand and yank him toward the bedroom. 

His pull was met with resistance, as an ebullient Isabelle tugged at her brother. My god, she’s strong. Alec, drunk, high, and kiss-broken was a limp noodle between the two, getting jostled in both directions. 

“I’m not getting married without my brother! He has to be my maid of honor!” 

To Magnus’ dismay, the girl won out, tumbling backwards into the portal with Alec in tow. It was impossible to keep the portal open-- Magnus was barely coherent enough to open it in the first place-- and maintaining it took more magic than he could focus on. For a few moments he remained frozen, arms stretched out to where the portal used to be, unwilling to admit that his lover had been stolen away to Canada.  Eventually he conceded, slumping to the floor in defeat. Desperate for a modicum of comfort, he leaned up slightly to grab a long-forgotten cup of chai from the tea table, easily warmed by the touch of his magical hands. 

“Et tu, Izzy…” He sobbed lightly, drifting into a restless sleep seconds later, his tea spilling onto his bare chest. He would wake up the next morning uncomfortably sticky.

 

Chapter Text

Coming back from an intense, immersive flashback for the first time was very similar to the feeling of Portalling for the first time: disorienting, uncomfortable, and dangerously nauseating. Given their lingering hangovers, the nausea was an unwelcome guest. 

Everyone came back from the collective memory feeling the mix of side effects combined with a strange type of emotional whiplash. Their bodies felt foreign compared to the skins they’d jumped into during the flashback. So much had happened last night in the loft, and nobody was sure how much each person remembered. 

Simon, Clary and Jace, in their respective locations, were giggling about how silly everyone had been, taking hits and making fun of each other. They found it hilarious, focusing on all the superficial details and none of the more meaningful revelations. 

 


 

Jace padded around Alec’s room in bare feet, stripped down to his grey boxers. Always the utilitarians, both boys made quick time of getting ready for the wedding, unceremoniously going through the motions to rid themselves of the hangover grime. It was insulting to Alec how much energy Jace had, all things considered. The eager blonde spoke through the toothbrush in his mouth, his voice slightly garbled. 

“Alec-- you should have seen Lydia… she was hilarious high.” Jace jabbed the toothbrush at his parabatai, who, prior to the flashback, had been making his way toward the shower. Jace chose to leave out the details of watching Alec make out with Magnus. “And get this-- I was Simon . Like… a vampire…”

 


 

Back in the Toronto loft, Simon chatted on, Magnus not paying him much attention as he tried to digest the more complex feelings he had about the goings-on behind the curtains. 

“... and I was JACE . I mean I’m not going to lie, I didn’t mind being that devastatingly handsome. I see where the cockiness comes from now.”

Magnus realized he’d had far too much to drink this early in the day, and conjured himself up a steaming pot of sencha green tea. Much to Magnus’ dismay, Simon was living up to his reputation of never shutting up.

“But holy shit it was something else to see Izzy struggle to order Chinese takeout from a mundane restaurant. You could even say it was high- larious.”

Not that Magnus particularly cared, but he was thankful that Simon was preoccupied with going through his record collection, since it gave the warlock free reign to grimace unabashedly at the terrible puns. Leaning forward, he poured the tea from the iron pot into a delicate, handleless cup. He settled back into the sofa, tucking his feet close to him. He resigned himself to the flood of inane commentary, choosing to enjoy that none of the attention was on him.

 


 

The girls were too tired to muster up any ounce of pretense, Lydia quickly shooting down Izzy and Clary’s enthusiasm.

“Did we end up getting that Chinese food?” Clary pondered. During the flashback, she’d been inhabiting the body of the blonde Branwell. “Lydia… you were starving. I think you were craving pizza? Just when I thought I was getting the hang of the shadow-world, now I’m remembering how it felt to be inside your body. If I didn’t feel like I was going to throw up my brunch right now, I might find this pretty cool.”

“Lydia had the munchies? I’m sure she couldn’t hold a candle to you Clary…” Isabelle flung herself back on the bed. “Your thoughts were just various foods. No words, just pictures. For a second, I thought there was an earthquake-- that’s how intensely your stomach was rumbling. And what is up with that strange urge to hug everyone? ” 

“When I’m wasted I can get a little… touchy.” Clary giggled fondly, in only the way someone who had fully accepted their drunken persona could. “I probably did hug everyone.”

“Not just hug….” Lydia muttered, her eyes distant and wide. Her mind was drifting back to the night before, but there was no supernatural cause. 

“Wait. No… you’re not saying?” Izzy’s head popped up. “Who was it?! I’m dying to know.” A mischievous grin blossomed on her face. The lipstick she’d been wearing this morning had faded, providing a rare glimpse of the natural peach tone of her lips. 

Lydia sheepishly raised her hand, still avoiding eye contact. Her body was stone, still and bracing against any oncoming attack. She wasn’t used to being in such welcoming and safe company. Her friends in Idris wouldn’t find the drunken kiss so innocuous; they’d use other words like unnatural, perverse, deviant. Izzy and Clary, however, giddily ate up the bite of information.

“But you guys are cousins. ” Izzy tried not to laugh, but it was very hard. Before last night, Clary’s past relationship with her brother Jace had seemed too taboo to mention, but now that they had been through such more outrageous situations, it was safe enough to poke jokes at anything and everything. And this was definitely part of ‘everything’. 

Distant. We are distant cousins.” Lydia turned her head to look at the other two girls, trying and failing to come to her own defense. Normally, teasing was a battle, and she wanted to win. But here, teasing was a game where everyone had fun.

“I see Clary has a bit of a pattern for forbidden love .” Isabelle rolled over playfully, tickling at Clary’s sides. “You better put a plug on that, or else Alec might threaten to send you to the Silent Brothers for your impropriety. You know how much a stickler he can be for the rules.”

“I don’t think propriety matters as much to Alec as I originally thought.” Lydia leaned all the way back, joining the other two girls in lounging. Like a neapolitan ice-cream sandwich, their bodies were laid out, their long, loose hair painting three stripes; Isabelle’s chocolate, Clary’s strawberry, and Lydia’s vanilla.

As she relaxed into their safe, warm, comfort, she realized that she didn’t have any negative feelings toward what she saw-- and felt-- Alec do in the past twenty-four hours. She smiled a bit, and allowed herself to melt. 

“In the memory, I was Magnus.” She didn’t add anything else, just let the statement sit in the silence. While her feelings about seeing and feeling Alec in such a way were clear to her, putting it into words was a daunting task that she felt ill-equipped for. It wouldn't be particularly appropriate to outright say ‘Yes, I saw my fiance make out with a male warlock last night. No it didn’t bother me much, nor was I surprised. Also, I didn’t enjoy making out with my fiance. All things considered I am still marrying him today.’ Thankfully, she didn’t have to voice her own concerns, since the barrage of questions started on their own.

“So if you were Magnus, then you were the one making out with Alec.” Clary stated, rolling over to face Lydia. “How was that? I mean I’m sure you guys have done that before? Did it feel different?”

“It was… strange. Alec and I have never… um… We’ve never done anything like that.” It wasn’t anything she’d even considered. After everything she’d been through, she had thrown herself into work. She didn’t see anyone in that way-- the sexual way-- especially not Alec. Her kiss with Clary, as far as she currently remembered from the previous night, had been her only experience in years. 

“Wait, you’re about to marry my brother today, and you’re saying you’ve never kissed?” Isabelle was trying to look shocked, but the truth was, she wasn’t surprised. She always assumed Alec was completely gay. Through the years, Alec had done plenty of lying about girls he thought were pretty-- she’d even caught him telling Jace about some girl he kissed. Her brother was great at plenty of things, but he was a terrible liar.

There was the obvious evidence-- Alec had crushed on Jace for years-- but then there were the subtleties-- Alec checking out what had to be a male model on a mission in TriBeCa, Alec not being able to flirt his way around an undercover situation with a woman, the fact that the Seelie queen once showed up nude to a Clave council meeting and Alec’s eyes never strayed from her face. 

“I am going to just come out and say it.” Isabelle groaned at Clary’s pun. Years of friendship with Simon had left its mark on her, but the mark was more endearing on him. “Lydia, we kind of touched on this yesterday. You know,  when you were trying on your dress?”

“When you were accusing me of leaking your plans to The Circle?” Clary’s breath shivered at the ice in Lydia’s response. Not quite a laugh, but more a huff from her nose, Lydia pushed aside any severity. “No worries, Fray. I know Jace put you up to that. Either way, it’s in the past. You can continue with your train of thought.”

Clary’s hair danced like waves on the mattress as she shook her head in surprise. She was dumbfounded, blindsided by the natural way Lydia wove her authority and nobility in and out of a conversation with such ease. 

“I…” She stuttered a bit. “Maybe it’s because I’ve spent more time in the mundane world, but out there, outside of the Institute, there are a lot more LGBTQIA+ people. I’ve met enough people that I could tell Alec was gay right away. And then there’s always the old adage ‘ it takes one to know one’.

Izzy and Lydia’s faces scrunched up, gears turning as they tried to break down everything Clary had said. 

“But you were with Jace…” Izzy started, but was cut off by Lydia. 

“What does the alphabet have to do with people of… alternative sexualities, exactly?” 

“This hangover is messing with my head Clary, because for a moment I completely forgot the word bisexual existed.” She rolled over, whispering to Lydia. “Clary is bisexual. She likes men and women.” Lydia shrugged her shoulders, her face showing a refreshing level of acceptance for a Clave envoy. She wasn’t just any Clave envoy though-- she was apparently now a Clave envoy who kissed drunk girls and kind of liked it. 

“Actually…” Clary rolled over too, both girls facing Lydia in the middle. “I’m pansexual . I’d be more than happy to tell you all about it… over some pizza. ” She giggled. “We still have almost four hours until the wedding, there’s plenty of time for a snack. I’m going to see if the kitchen has any of the frozen pizzas Jace keeps around, but if not, I’m going to call and have pizza delivered.”

“Call with what?” Izzy propped herself up on one elbow. “None of us have our phones.” 

“You two might not, but think I do.” Lydia quickly rolled over onto her back, nearly pushing Izzy off the bed, before sitting up and hopping onto her feet. “I brought it with me when I met up with you two, but I didn’t have it this morning. At some point, we came back here to fetch my dress from my office. If I had to make an informed guess, it would be that I left my phone in there.”

With the dignity of a woman who had solved hundreds of cases, she confidently strode towards the door. Her mission: find her phone. Once she was out of earshot and safely in the hall, she mumbled to herself.

Pansexual… pans… ” Her forehead creased in concentration as she walked. Her external ramblings transitioned to internal monologue. Pan… the Greek god of the wild and companion to nymphs... Does she have a thing for Seelies? 

 


 

Alec was beside himself. During the flashback, in Isabelle’s body, he’d seen the way Magnus was kissing him, the way he kissed him back. He could feel his little sister’s warmth and support radiate through her. But there was something else too… was it pride? He couldn’t understand how she could be proud of something so shameful that he’d done. It was downright brazen-- kissing Magnus in front of everyone like that, with no regard for decorum. Alec wanted to fold himself up, hide away with his own shame and embarrassment, and take the time to process everything he’d seen from an outside perspective. Instead, he did the next best thing-- flee. Before he could listen to any more of Jace’s ramblings, he spun and dashed out the door.

He had to go somewhere, anywhere, but he would figure it out on the way. His vision was blurred by confusion, anger, fear. And were those tears? Heat built up beneath his eyes, and he didn’t want to acknowledge it. He didn’t want to acknowledge what it might mean, or if there was anything he could do about it. His shadowhunter instincts took a back seat to his emotions. It was a complete surprise when his body smacked into Lydia, sending them falling backwards onto the floor. 

Lydia made it up first, standing over Alec’s prone frame splayed out beneath her.

“Alec… Alexander…” His full name sounded strange coming from her voice. “Are you ok? Should I call down a medic?” Even with his eyes closed, he could feel her warmth as she knelt next to him. “Hey.” Her tone was firm, just like the hand she raised to his cheek. The touch was foreign and strange. “I need you to open your eyes for me.”

“Lydia, I’m fine.” Alec groaned. “It’s just, now that I’m here on the floor, I don’t want to get up.”

Her laugh was like church bells, warm and bright, somehow reverent. He’d never heard her laugh before, but it carried a feeling of safety.

“That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”

Alec reluctantly opened one eye just a hair, squeezing the other eye shut tighter. “I’m hungover, everything hurts. The cold floor feels good.”

“Have you tried your iratze? If Jace activates it for you, it might do you some good. I have always been incredibly jealous of parabatai rune activation.” The lilt in her voice did little to raise his spirits, but his grumpy, squinty-eyed, defiant grimace was adorable. It was nearly a pout. Alexander Lightwood was pouting at her.

“It barely helped. I think I’m going to feel this way forever. I’ve accepted it.” 

“You’ve never been hungover before, have you?”

“No. And definitely not with magical flashbacks. Coming out of the last one made me lose my breakfast.” He blushed a bit at the last admission. “You don’t strike me as a hangover expert yourself.”

“Actually, I’m fine.” She shifted from kneeling to sitting cross-legged against the wall. “When I lived in Lisbon, everyone drank. They drank a lot. Lunches were long, with bottles of white wine. Dinners were late, longer, and we sometimes drank more than a bottle per person.” There was an air of romance in her voice. “I didn’t take to it well at first. It was much different than living in Idris. But after a while, I got used to it. So will you.”

“Impossible.” His eyes closed again, his face relaxing as he took in a centering breath. 

“Well maybe you won’t get used to the magical flashbacks. That even threw me for a loop.”

Alec opened his hazel eyes, his head falling gently to the side. “You guys felt that too?” His New York accent always laid heavy on double vowels, making an endearing contrast to his refined shadowhunter upbringing. 

“We all did. And if we feel it simultaneously, it’s the same flashback. Apparently that’s how it works most of the time, but it’s Seelie magic, so we can’t be certain.” Her tone was a bit uneven, giving away her trepidation for the flashbacks that were going to come.

Alec struggled to drag his body off the ground, his muscles protesting to even a simple sit up. 

“Well then…” He bit back his embarrassment, for once in his life taking advantage of an opportunity to be candid. “Whose memories did you get?”



Chapter Text

Jace was used to Alec storming out on him. It happened all the time; he knew exactly how to press each and every one of his parabatai’s buttons. That’s why it bothered him. He could feel through the bond that Alec was upset, but there was something else-- a sense of safety and comfort wrapping around the uncertainty and doubt.

The flashback had been jarring for everyone, but Alec had only stepped through the portal to institute and entered his room minutes before it happened. Physically, mentally and emotionally, he was yanked around in a thousand different directions. From what Jace was sensing, someone was there, soothing Alec, listening to Alec. But who could it be? He knew that their bond meant he understood Alec better than anyone, yet at the same time Jace wasn’t sure what words he could offer. In moments of distress, the only way Jace knew how to cope was humor, which did nothing to help the reserved and quiet Lightwood brother.

It’s probably just Isabelle. She’s always better with this type of stuff than I am. I mean… we all saw what happened… What could I possibly offer to him right now?  Dude, it’s okay that you’re gay? Go enjoy this fancy shadowhunter wedding to Lydia? 

He wasn’t in any shape to give relationship advice himself. Loving and losing Clary, all to the deception of Valentine-- it had nearly broken him. An ache from an unhealed gash still radiated within him, somewhere deep where he didn’t even know he could hurt. All of that had been pushed aside, the pain redirected into focus on Alec-- helping Alec have a fun bachelor party, finding Alec in Toronto, helping Alec pull everything together for the wedding. He hadn’t taken any time to process his own feelings.

But now, he was still in Alec’s room, frozen in thought with his toothbrush in hand. A stripe of minty foam dribbled down his chin. Alec would probably be back soon, and until then, he was going to finish brushing his teeth.

 


 

Magnus was drunk-- at least, that’s how it looked from Simon’s perspective. It was unclear where the whiskey was coming from, but Magnus’ glass never seemed to empty. The warlock was sprawled on the couch, one leg latched around the back, the other propped up on the arm of the sofa. His head precariously hung off the edge, each sip of whiskey requiring a tiny, strained situp to safely tilt the glass to his lips. 

“It’s just….” Magnus slurped his drink. “Ugh! There are so many things about this that I do not have the energy-- or the amount of alcohol -- to process!” He sat the hand holding the glass next to him on the cushion, dramatically flinging the other above his head. 

“I think you’ve had plenty of booze--” Simon tiptoed over to the warlock, making a futile attempt to snatch the snifter from his hand. Magnus waived his free arm, a rush of blue magic pushing the vampire a few feet back. “Was that really necessary?”

Was that really necessary?” Magnus mocked in a nasal tone. “By the angel, you’ve been spending far too much time around Rafael Santiago. I had enough of his judgemental sass when I took him in fifty years ago. This is why I stand by the fact that there should never be teenage vampires.” Magnus snorted.“They’re always compensating for the fact they can never grow up by being so self-righteous. ” 

“If that’s how we’re going to play Bane, then you’ve been spending too much time around the Shadowhunters. ‘ By the angel’ ? Come on, you’re the son of a demon right? Aren’t there blasphemy laws about that or something?” Simon’s shoulders were tight, all pent up energy. Whenever he was in an argument, he was a racehorse-- a racehorse who couldn’t figure out how to get out of the gate, even though the door was wide open. He could never hold his own. Puns and wit could only get you so far. Even as a vampire, he was less than intimidating, and no match for a hundreds-year-old warlock. 

“I’m the son of the Greater Demon Asmodeus, a prince of hell. Princes of hell are directly fallen angels. Therefore, if anything… I’m a nephilim.” With a snap of his fingers, billowing black-feathered wings spread out around Magnus’ reclined frame. In the artificial light of the penthouse, the tip of each feather reflected a blueish-purple sheen, like a glistening oil slick. His facial expression remained unchanged, despite his display of dramatism. He didn't miss a beat in the conversation. “And blasphemy? Tell me, can you even say the word ‘God’ yet?” Magnus sat up just enough to take a sip from his drink before dropping the glass to the floor as he stared at the ceiling. Unglamored, his cat eyes gazed blankly ahead. 

For a moment, Simon was impressed.

Did Magnus actually have wings this whole time? Was that his warlock mark? But as he stood above Magnus, he caught a glimpse of his chartreuse feline irises. Warlocks don’t have two marks… Simon used his limited powers of deduction and knowledge of the downworld to call the warlock’s bluff.

“Cut it out, Magnus. Those wings aren’t real.” Magnus didn’t respond, instead, flapping his wings to create a gust of wind. Simon’s curls barely moved, a testament to the hair gel he used each day to control his waves. “I see your cat eyes. Warlock’s don’t have two marks.”

Magnus was unaware he’d dropped his glamour, but the magic he’d spontaneously used to conjure up wings had been relatively taxing on his drunken mind. 

“Observant. I’m impressed.” Magnus sighed, the wings disappearing. On the coffee table, a small double shot glass appeared. It was full of clear, pale yellow liquid, but it made Simon’s mouth water, his fangs uncontrollably popping from his gums. He didn’t even notice that he’d picked it up, that he was sniffing at it like a middle-aged woman in a candle store. 

“What is this? It’s not blood?”

“Plasma. Isolated from blood.” Isolated from my blood. Magnus didn’t add. It was the easiest way to get around the pesky accord laws about sourcing human blood, and years around vampires had Magnus familiar with all the tricks. “It’s much stronger than the normal product, but I abhor being the only inebriated one in a room.” 

“As…” Simon was drooling, making it difficult to speak. He swallowed, trying to regain his composure. “... delicious as this must be. I really do need to make it to the wedding before it starts. I promised Clary I’d be her date.” He shifted back and forth on his feet, his body stiff. His bicep trembled as he reached to put the glass back down.

“Hmm, that’s a shame. If I portal you back to New York, you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere until sundown. You’d be cutting it pretty close, since shadowhunter weddings always happen at dusk.” Magnus maneuvered himself so that he was completely upside down, his legs hanging off the couch back and his head tilted toward the floor. “Unless you had a Warlock willing to portal you around to more places than just the Institute. A warlock who could be convinced to portal you to the DuMort, get your suit, portal you somewhere to get a better haircut, and get you to the institute in time for the wedding?” 

Magnus crossed his ankles, hanging his hands down to the floor stretched above his head. The now abandoned glass of bourbon whiskey levitated off the floor,  floated above him midair, and hovered near his mouth. In an overt display of magic, Magnus lost whatever remained of his sober decorum, the cup tilted to meet his lips, defying the laws of fluid dynamics as the alcohol neatly poured into his mouth, not in delicate sips but rather a near constant flow. 

The trickling sound filled the uncomfortable, tense silence. Simon’s eyes jumped back and forth between the Dionysian scene in front of him and the overpowering plasma on the coffee table. His vision blurred, his eyes shaking as the room seemed to vibrate with a suffocating urgency-- hunger. It was impossible to will his fangs away, impossible to ignore his urges, impossible to pay attention to anything. All he knew was that Magnus was talking, and he was hungry. Magnus’ monologue continued to drabble on, but Simon could barely follow. 

“... I could be convinced to benevolently provide my services, but I would never do it for a buzzkill. I enjoy my buzz alive and well, thank you.”

“I don’t care Magnus.” Simon huffed, the ‘s’ in Magnus’ name getting caught on his fangs, coming out as more of a ‘th’. “This isn’t a time for games.”

“I’m not playing games, my darling, Jewish vampire. I offered you food, I offered you my services. I’m not even getting mad that you’re ignoring my titillating conversation.”

“You’re moping. You can’t sit here and get drunk, ignoring everything that happened last night.” Simon squinted his eyes shut, trying to think about anything other than the plasma. 

“Hmm, passing judgement. The minefield of ‘ should s’ and ‘ shouldn’t s’. Is that so smart? You’re not looking too well yourself. It seems rather hypocritical to give me advice when you’re so blue around the gills…”

“I just can’t…” Simon wanted to take a centering breath, an obsolete human habit, but he knew it would make matters worse. He tried to mimic the motion with his chest without sucking in air, but it was futile. “I can’t focus with that crack-blood sitting over there taunting me!” Simon’s voice cracked, and Magnus was surprised he finally got a rise out of the boy. They had been bickering for a while, and up until this point, Simon barely raised his voice, relying on wit alone. Such restraint was admirable in such a freshly-turned vampire. 

Crack blood?” Magnus snorted.  “That’s not very good for marketing. I wouldn’t offer you something that’s so bad for you, Simon. I’m tipsy, I’m a fool, but I’m not an idiot. A shot or two of plasma will hit you the same as a couple of shots of normal alcohol. Its effects depend on the potency and purity. Considering that I pulled that plasma straight from my own veins, and warlock blood is less potent than human, nephilim or seelie blood, you’d be sober again within an hour.”

Simon was concerned for Magnus, concerned for his state of mind, his inability to face his issues, and his overall level of inebriation, but he still inherently trusted the High Warlock. 

“I’ll make you a deal-” Simon started. 

“Negotiating?  After I already offered you a generous amount of my magic pro bono?

“I’ll sit here for a bit longer I’ll drink your plasma. I won’t even think about how gross it is that it came from your body. But if I do, we need to figure out a way for you to fix things with Alec. I’m not going to stand idly by while you keep looking at cute Instagram photos while Alec is off getting straight-married to some shadowhunter woman. Lydia is a wonderful lady and all, but… we both know she’s not Alec’s type. The least you can do is face the issue head-on and accept the situation. So you need to sit up, lighten up on the booze, and have a real conversation with me.” Simon picked back up the glass. “Oh, and you need to send everyone their phones back. I fixed them and found a charger for Izzy’s.”

“Simon Lewis,” Magnus sat up, quickly rotating around on his haunches to a normal sitting position. “I believe that deal can be arranged. I'll make sure all the phones are portalled back safely, so they won't get damaged. Then, I'll continue to pour my heart out as quickly as I pour out my whiskey.” 'Safely' in the mind of a drunken warlock meant sending along a few pillows first in hopes that the phones would safely land on them. This absolutely had no chance of working, magic be damned. 

 


 

Alec and Lydia were in the hall, backs pressed against the wood paneling as they debriefed the flashback. The details were rather mundane and objective, with Alec remembering a scene much less graphic than what Lydia had experienced. She danced around any details that were too intense, too powerful. It wasn’t their normal conversational tone-- strictly business-- but something more comfortable and relaxed.

At least, it was comfortable until cell phones started to fall from the ceiling, ricocheting off of Alec’s head, along with an assortment of seat cushions. 

Why? Why is this happening?” He shielded his face from the debris. He wasn’t alarmed, rather he was annoyed. 

The crisp smell of ozone dissipated as quickly as it had arrived, a small portal swirling to a close above Lydia and Alec’s heads. 

“Oh, it’s all our phones. Well, actually, it looks like yours, Izzy’s and Clary’s. Hopefully that means mine is in my office… ” She picked up each device individually, pressing a button to check the charge. “They’re all working. The cushions, though-- that’s anyone’s guess.” She shrugged, not particularly fazed by the random, magical intrusion. 

“I think the cushions were just there to make everything more ridiculous than it already is.” Alec leaned to the side, picking up the pillows and neatly stacking them. As he grabbed his phone from the floor, Lydia glanced down, noticing the rings on Alec’s long fingers: Magnus Bane’s signature, cursive ‘M’  and  ‘ B’ . Somehow, they fit him perfectly, but she was beyond surprise. The memories were one thing, but seeing physical evidence of the previous night was something different altogether. Alec caught her staring, his hand stopping mid-movement. An uncomfortable hush fell between them, Lydia chewing at her inner cheek. 

“I should go get my phone and give these back to the girls, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to get them back.” She stood, dusting off her pants. “Clary moreso, I hear mundanes are nearly addicted to their screens.”

Just like that, she was off, strutting down the hall with purpose. She didn’t help Alec up off the floor, she didn’t give him the same relaxed smile they’d shared moments before. This was Lydia Branwell, Head of the Institute. 

Alec wasn’t ready to go back to his room, back to Jace; he wasn’t ready for any of this. Everything felt wrong, from the knots tensing tighter in his stomach to the tightness in his chest. His head spun, his palms were sweaty.  But shadowhunters had their duties, and to the Clave, Alec was still an honorable nephilim. He couldn’t allow himself to be distracted. No matter what he remembered of the night before, no matter how loudly Magnus’ prior pleas rang in his ears, today he would restore the Lightwood name and secure his position as head of the New York Institute. 

Compartmentalizing every hint of trepidation, he stood tall, centering himself before returning to his room.

 


 

The second she got her phone back, Isabelle was furiously tapping away.

“Those flashbacks were wild , and from what Magnus said, we are going to have more of them. It might be good to set up a group chat so that we can share anything important… or funny. Since, you know, we won’t all get every flashback.” Izzy opened her SMS app, adding all the contacts for the group. “Don’t worry-- I already have everyone’s number, so I’ll set it up.” The ping of phone notifications rang out from Clary and Lydia’s phones.

“I’ve missed my phone so much!” Clary giggled, tapping in her pin to unlock the screen to see the chat. “I’m impressed by Simon’s tech repair skills. It takes a bit more effort to tap the screen, but beyond that you’d never know it was submerged in water.”

“Speak for yourself, my screen has a crack in the corner,” Izzy pouted. She tilted the phone side to side, checking the rose-gold body for additional scratches and dents.  “I pride myself in keeping my phone in pristine condition. I hope this doesn’t affect the front-facing camera. My Instagram selfie-game can’t handle another hit.”

“You’re on Insta!” Clary’s soprano voice soared higher as she squealed. “I guess it didn’t come up when we were going from mission to mission. Here--” Clary handed over her phone to Izzy. “Put in your username. I have to follow you.”

“Isn’t it in violation of Clave rules to engage in mundane social media?” Under other circumstances, Lydia would sound menacing, but her shy smile negated any potential intimidation.

“It’s not mundane if you follow Magnus Bane, is it?” Isabelle handed Clary back her phone. “I actually follow a ton of famous downworlders, a few shadowhunters, and a few mundane celebrities that I have my eye on. Ru Paul is definitely a warlock…” 

“Magnus is on Insta too?!” Clary swiped through Isabelle’s list of followed accounts, stopping at the username magnus_opus. With a few more taps, she was following the high warlock, and stalking all of his posts from last night. “These are so cute!" She held the phone closer to her face, squinting her sage-green eyes. "Is that… Alec’s butt?!”

Chapter Text

Back in Alec’s room, Jace and Alec’s phones buzzed in unison. Swiping his unlock pattern, Alec read the message. From the list of numbers at the top of the thread, it was a group chat. He already hated this. 

 

Isabelle:

        Hey guys! This is Iz.

        I started up this chat so we can talk about the flashbacks since we all won’t get the same ones!

        I have everyone’s number, but I doubt the rest of you do, so respond back with your name so we know who is who!

 

A barrage of messages flooded in, half from numbers Alec didn’t recognize.

 

(unknown number):

        Hey! This is Simon! 

(unknown number):

        Clary here! Thanks for fixing my phone Simon!

 

Alec was really wishing he hadn’t fixed it. Now he felt obligated to add in her contact info. He refused to add the vampire's.

 

(Jace):

        It’s Jace, and I really don’t want to have the mundie’s number.

(unknown number):

        This is Brother Zachariah.

 

Across the room, Jace was squinting at his phone in confusion. 

“Brother Zachariah? Like… the Silent brothers? Why is he in the group chat? I didn’t even think they were allowed to have phones.” He was right-- it was highly unusual to be interacting with the reverent Silent Brothers in a casual scenario. Texting them felt inappropriate, iconoclastic even. They were cut off by more buzzing before Alec could comment. 

 

(Envoy Branwell):

        Lydia Branwell.

 

The engagement had been so short, Alec never bothered to enter Lydia’s name in his phone. His contact list had information various important members of the Clave, organized by title and surname. It felt wrong. He would be marrying her in a few hours. Would he change her contact to be Envoy Lightwood? Were they familiar enough to change it to just ‘Lydia’? 

 

(Magnus Bane):

        The High Warlock has arrived.

 

Alec’s breath hitched seeing Magnus’ name. Reading just one sentence-- just one name really-- and he was starting to come undone. Jace noticed it. Even without the parabatai bond, he wouldn’t have missed the way Alec reacted to the text message. He didn’t know what to do or what advice he could possibly offer. Striding across the room, he flopped onto the bed, pulling Alec down with him. Laying on the bed side by side, it reminded Alec of all the times they would have sleepovers as kids, sitting up for hours reading mundane comic books and making up ghost stories. When they got older, when they became parabatai, they shared many other types of physical closeness, but this was something they outgrew. It had all the safety of childhood. They stared at the ceiling, their slow, deep breaths synchronizing. Parabatai were one in battle-- both in combat and in emotional turmoil.

“I don’t really know what to say Alec. I know you think I won’t understand, but-”

Before Jace could continue to struggle through the ‘It’s okay to be gay’ talk, he and Alec sank into another flashback. They couldn’t know how many others were experiencing the same thing, but for them, their memories were swapped. Alec was Jace, Jace was Alec.

 


 

“Yo!

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti

He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready

To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin...”

 

From where they were standing, they had a perfect view of a captive, unamused audience. Standing far too close to the screen, the boys struggled through a duet performance of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’. Simon cheered them along, occasionally giving an unprompted fist-bump, out of line with the beat. 

“Woo! Alec! Woo Jace! Get it!” Simon yelled, hands cupped around his mouth to amplify his volume.

Magnus, Clary, and Isabelle were huddled around a small, high-top bar table, heads bowed in shame. Lydia hadn’t joined the party yet. 

As the parabatai sang along, the lyrics started to come more naturally as they slipped back into their adolescent selves. More confident, they started to hop up and down with the beat, hyping themselves up. Jace tried to make his voice sound tougher, instead achieving something more akin to severe bronchitis. With his natural New York accent, Alec’s performance was more passable. His dancing, however, was not. 

 

“You can do anything you set your mind to man!”

 

They yelled out the last line, dropping their mics. Before the DJ could panic about damaged microphones, Magnus twirled his fingers to soften the drop.

Jace and Alec hurdled off the rickety stage, clumsily somersaulting up to fighting stance in front of their table. They were panting, small beads of sweat dripping from their brows as they flashed matching, crooked grins. 

“That was awesome ! You two? My BrOTP. Iconic.” Simon hi-fived them with full vampire strength, nearly knocking down the two shadowhunters. While they were chugging pints of beer and shoveling down mozzarella sticks, they didn’t notice the next person to take the stage. The twang of a country guitar blasted a bit too loudly from the speakers. As the DJ fiddled with the sound board to adjust the volume, the boys snapped their heads up. 

Magnus was on the stage, his toes tapping to the beat.

 

“You're on the phone with your girlfriend

She's upset

She's going off about something that you said

'Cause she doesn't get your humor like I do”

 

Magnus pulled the microphone off the stand, shaking the cable away so it didn’t trip him. He circled the stage; it was clear he didn’t need to read the lyrics from the prompter. He knew them by heart.

 

“I'm in my room

It's a typical Tuesday night

I'm listening to the kind of music she doesn't like

And she'll never know your story like I do”

 

“I never pegged Bane as a t-swift fan… but it makes sense!” Simon chirped. “I bet he has some awesome glittery cowboy boots or something… maybe some assless chaps…” 

Alec blushed, Jace punched Simon in the arm. “Come on, don’t disgrace Taylor that way. She isn’t some redneck, rodeo, country singer. She’s a sophisticated lady….” To everyone’s disbelief, Jace continued to loudly defend Taylor Swift’s honor. 

But Alec wasn’t paying attention. Every time Magnus sang the word ‘you’ he flashed his eyes to Alec, who swore that he saw all gold and slitted pupils, ferocious feline eyes staring right through him. 

By the second verse, Magnus was visibly singing to Alec, and the entire bar noticed. How could they not? A flamboyantly dressed man covered in silk and glitter was singing a pop-country song to a grumpy looking,  tattooed boy dressed in all black. It was a spectacle, and it was magical. 

 

“And you've got a smile that could light up this whole town

I haven't seen it in a while since she brought you down”

 

Magnus hopped off the stage, the microphone becoming mysteriously wireless. He stalked toward the boys’ table, eliciting knowing looks from Isabelle and Clary.

“O.M.G Clary are you seeing this?” Izzy mock whispered.

“This is soooo romantic!” Clary squealed. 

Jace and Simon elbowed Alec suggestively, but it did nothing to put Alec in good spirits. He sat frozen at the table, clutching his beer for dear life. When Magnus was only a few steps away, a look of panic flashed across the archer’s face, and after a calculated breath, he decided to chug down the entirety of his pint. Using his sleeve, he wiped the foam from his lip, bracing himself for the oncoming storm. 

 

“You say your fine

I know you better then that

Hey what you doing with a girl like that”

 

Magnus didn’t just come over to the table. After strutting around it for a few lines, he grabbed Alec by the shirt, pulling him toward the stage. Alec stumbled along clumsily, tripping over his feet.  His body was trying to prevent him from getting in the spotlight even if it meant causing bodily harm. The warlock pushed Alec down, sitting him on the edge of the stage, and continued to sing. 

 

“Oh, I remember you  standing in my loft

 in the middle of the night,”

 

Magnus was changing the words, not that Alec could have noticed. Even if he could sing along word for word, he knew exactly the night Magnus was talking about. He had given the warlock his strength, cleaned his apartment, stayed for drinks, and accidentally stayed the night. Despite the messy drama of trying to save Luke’s life, the rest of that evening was the most fun Alec had in… well, ever. He almost hadn’t stayed, when his mother called; he’d almost turned down the drink. But there was no way he could’ve said no, not once Magnus shushed him, delicately pressing a finger to the archer’s lips. 

Which he was doing right now. Alec wasn’t saying anything, so he was confused by the gesture, but the familiarity of it made his eyelashes flutter, his chest ache. Magnus traced his finger down Alec’s lips, parting them slightly with the dragging motion. 

 

“I think I know where you belong

I think I know it's with me”

 

The microphone dropped to the ground unceremoniously, and the sound system fizzled before switching off. It wasn’t damaged, Magnus just didn’t see a point in finishing the song. He’d gotten his point across. 

Magnus leaned in, closing the distance between them, their faces only a hair’s length apart. Alec’s breath hitched, the closeness strange and new. Everything was warm-- the body pressed against his, their mingling breath, his veins, his cheeks, his heart. He was a kettle, steam rattling the lid, the whistling startling him to action. And now he was boiling. 

He leaned forward-- it was barely a movement at all, but it was all they needed for their lips to touch. Wolf whistles erupted from the crowd. Simon yelled ‘Get a room you two!’. Izzy and Clary blabbered various coos of endearment. Objectively, it was a cheesy, cringe-worthy scenario. But everyone was drunk, everyone was happy, and everything was beautiful.

  


 

“Well… that was something.” Jace scoffed. “To be honest, until this very second, I had completely forgotten that Eminem existed. Really takes me back…”

“Uh, yeah. Definitely. It was pretty funny.” Alec’s tone was even, steamrolled over by years of practiced resolve. 

“The best part-- now we know Magnus’ weakness. High Warlock and all… sometimes he seems untouchable-- but damn he really can’t sing. I mean that was pretty awful--”

That’s what you got out of that Jace?” Alec snipped. “That he sucks at singing? Not that he kissed me, in front of the whole bar?”

Jace got the reaction he was looking for. 

“I got back your memories, you know.” Jace stayed soft, not wanting to scare off his parabatai and force him to flee. “Everything you felt, everything you were thinking…. By the angel no wonder you are so quiet. Your mind just doesn’t stop. It’s like I was having a thousand feelings all at the same time, and none of them were good.”

“Good for you Jace, because all I got on your end was one emotion-- drunk. You just sat there, amused by everything around you.”

“Come on, we were at a Karaoke bar. I know you never get out, but it is the standard at a karaoke bar to be amused. That’s the whole reason you go. It’s funny, everyone gets drunk, and you have fun blackmail for later!”

“Except all the blackmail is on me, Jace.” Alec sighed, clearly exacerbated by the conversation. Still laying on their backs, his parabatai could feel his uneven breathing ripple through the mattress. “If anyone at the Institute saw, or if the Clave knew-- Everything I’ve worked for, everything we’ve worked for-- it would all be over. Lydia would never marry me. The Lightwood name would remain a disgrace. I’d never run an institute.”

“Alec, Lydia knows. At this point, we all know.” He sighed, his exhale spreading a deafening silence through the spartan bedroom.

“Then why are you all still here? Why hasn’t Lydia left? Why are you helping me get ready right now?” He spat out each question, his face twisted in disgust.

“Because Alec-- if this is what you want, if you really want a traditional shadowhunter wedding that’s all honor and duty, then we all support you. If you and Lydia both are going into this for purely political reasons, and you’re okay with that, then that’s your choice.”

Before Alec could ask Jace if he was making the right choice, their phones started buzzing nonstop.

 

Isabelle:

        Okay, Karaoke bar flashback. I was Simon, I sang ‘500 miles’ and a song by a group called BarenakedLadies. 

Clary:

        I got this one too, I was Magnus.

        I drank five cosmopolitans, serenaded Alec with Taylor Swift music… and watched myself (like through Magnus’ eyes?) try to hug Alec.

        It did not end well for me.

(unknown number):

        Wow, drunk me has phenomenal taste in karaoke songs! They're both classics!

        I was Clary. Uhh… yeah you and Izzy did a ‘duet’ to Anaconda by Nicki Minaj. Interesting choice.  

Envoy Branwell: 

        I did not get this flashback, and I’m happy I wasn’t there.

Magnus:

        I was Isabelle. It was a lovely experience being so painfully beautiful, yet so delusional about my rapping abilities. 

        Also: I sense some unsavory commentary about t-swift.

        Choose your words wisely, biscuit. She is the queen of the cat moms. I follow her cats on various forms of social media.  

Jace: 

        Alec and I were swapped, parabatai luck! 

 

Alec couldn’t be bothered to respond. Jace had him covered. Tapping the buttons on the side of his phone, he changed the setting from ‘vibrate’ to ‘silent’. It was all just a distraction. Jace had been right-- this wedding was about honor and duty. Nothing that happened last night mattered. He made it back to the Institute in time, and that was what was important. Since there was no point in continuing his conversation with Jace, he rolled out of bed to continue getting ready. He still needed to shower, make sure is suit was wrinkle-free, style his hair, and rehearse his vows. The busier he kept himself, the less time he would have to think. 

 

Chapter Text

There’s a unique type of privacy in a bathroom. With the roar of a running shower, the visibility reduced by billowing steam, the rest of the world faded away. As the mirror clouded over, Alec could hide even from himself, locking the door behind him

After getting his phone back and talking with Jace, he fell back into getting ready, making quick business of stealing himself away to take a shower. Uncharacteristic of the utilitarian shadowhunter, he snuck his phone in with him, hoping that Jace didn’t notice.

The group chat continued to buzz consistently, but Alec disabled notifications. He ignored every message, not having the courage to face the truths coming to life as the flashbacks came faster and faster. With the wedding only three hours away, there was no time to confront what happened-- not that it would change anything. But ever since he saw Magnus’ name pop up on the group chat, he struggled to think of anyone or anything else other than the warlock that constantly confused him.

Despite the warmth of the bathroom, Alec felt a mild chill, his emotions taking over his body. The phone on the counter-top taunted him, begging him to pick it up and do what he feared most: text Magnus. That was why he brought the phone with him, after all, so that he could make the decision on his own without any prying eyes. Alec Lightwood had many strengths, and he also had many flaws, but courage was not one of the qualities he lacked.

So why, now, was it so hard? Even if he couldn’t admit the significance of his own actions, Magnus deserved some kind of acknowledgement. Magnus needed to know that Alec was still going through with the wedding. He needed to know that even though Alec liked him, even after Magnus’ ultimatum, he still couldn’t change that he had a duty to the shadowhunters.

There was something else pulling at Alec though. Even though it wouldn’t change that he was getting married, the things he did with Magnus meant a lot to him. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, he liked Magnus. By texting Magnus, he had to accept that he might not like the response. While Magnus had always been bold in expressing his interest, there was a chance that Magnus had changed his mind. Maybe he didn’t like what he felt or saw in the flashbacks, put off by Alec’s lack of experience. Ignoring the possible outcomes wouldn’t make things any better, so Alec gathered his resolve and picked up the phone.

His trembling fingers struggled to type out the message. The coppery taste of blood seeped into his mouth, a byproduct of biting his lip in concentration. 


Alec Lightwood:

Magnus, I just want to know if you’re ok. With everything that happened, I don’t know what you remember, but it’s complicated. I’m still getting married today and I’m sorry we don’t have time to talk about it before, but you’re still invited.

That wasn’t right. The wording was all wrong, it didn’t convey what he was feeling. It lacked a clear stance, a clear message, but also didn’t leave room for interpretation.  Alec wasn’t adept enough with words to even begin to describe the complex mix of emotions he was feeling. He wasn’t emotionally mature enough to fathom what might be going on in the hundreds-year-old warlock’s head. All he could offer was honesty.  Holding his thumb to the back button, he erased everything he wrote and started over. 

Alec Lightwood:

Things were crazy last night. I need to know if you’re okay, because I don’t know if I am.

Before sending the message, he whispered the words out loud to himself, a second sanity check to make sure it was intelligible. He wasn’t used to being so candid, but it was easier when kept succinct. Satisfied as he would ever be with this message, he pressed ‘send’.

Alec didn’t know what type of response he could even hope for. If Magnus responded by saying that they were both just drunk and it didn’t mean anything, it would break Alec’s heart. But if it did mean something, then it would break both of their hearts. Alec’s decision to get married had nothing to do with love, and he was determined not to ignore his duty based on judgement-clouding emotions. That didn’t mean this hurt any less. He’d left out mention of the wedding, but whether it was on purpose or not was anyone’s guess.

Tossing the phone away onto the counter, he separated himself as far as possible from his actions. He stripped out of his boxers and black v-neck and stepped into the shower, praying the boiling water could wash away his stress and guilt from the past twenty-four hours.

 




“So anyway, count dorkula , could you answer something for me?” Magnus was trapped in a cycle of tossing and catching a throw pillow, trying to get it as close to the vaulted ceiling as possible. “Is it wrong that I was turned on by kissing myself? Was I turned on because I was Alec, and Alec is attracted to me? Or am I really just… attracted to myself.” The pillow skirted precariously close to the lighting fixture.

“Magnus, I’m not a therapist.” Simon called from the other side of the room, having taken up residence in the shelves of records. “You’re a good looking guy and all, but all of this is feeling bit Freudian if you ask me…”

“Freud? Really?” A voice scoffed. A voice that had a thick, posh London accent. A voice that belonged to Magnus’ recently departed best friend, Ragnor Fell. “My god, I’ve only been gone a few days and you’ve already found yourself entangled in a Freudian drama? Your only parent is Asmodeus, and if he is playing any role here, I can just as easily float out of this transcendental plane and into another. I’m sure Catarina’s company would be more pleasant.”

“But it wouldn’t be nearly as fun, would it, mon petit chou ?” Magnus’ eyes drifted shut, clutching the pillow to his chest as it made its final descent. Warlocks had a habit of staying around after their untimely deaths, since timely death wasn’t in the cards. “And no, it’s not Freudian drama, the Camille-spawn just has an incredibly limited knowledge of classical psychology.”

“Ah yes, pity his mind will never have a chance to fully develop. My my, Camille nearly robbed the cradle with that one, didn’t she? What is he, twelve?” Ragnor’s ghost strode across the room to the couch where Magnus was spread horizontally. He nudged at the corporeal warlock, pushing him into an upright position so they could share the seat. 

Magnus could have easily resisted the otherworldly prodding, but he conceded. Ragnor always got his way. Waving a hand over the table, Magnus duplicated his drink, cork coaster and all. 

“Uh… I don’t think another drink is a great idea right now. I think you might have had too much already.” Simon placed a new record on the turntable, making an effort to busy himself with the record collection instead of facing Magnus. It felt insubordinate to criticize Magnus at all, let alone while looking into his piercing cat eyes. Simon wasn’t sure why Magnus glamoured them so often; they demanded respect.

Plus, they’re freakishly cool. Cosplayers would kill for circle lenses that looked like that. He was getting distracted. If he wanted to drag Magnus back into the wellness wagon, he would need to at least try to be blunt. This would be so much easier with another shot of that plasma. Before that wore off, I was even chattier than normal. Pushing the stack of records back onto the shelf, he spun around, staring at the warlock across the room.

“Come on, man-- you’re talking to yourself. There’s no way that’s okay!” Now he’d opened the slap-in-the-face can of worms. “This isn’t like you! You’re usually a fun hot mess; glitter everywhere, badass magic skills, weird innuendos that make people simultaneously aroused and confused, constant day drinking, oh and the gold-medal in name-dropping. But now you’re…” Simon hesitated. This next word could make things end very poorly for him. He needed to pay his respects, make his peace. These could be his last words. “You’re sloppy!”

Magnus stared blankly ahead. To his left, Ragnor was laughing uncontrollably, his diaphanous frame buckled over as his body convulsed and heaved in amusement. 

“This is fantastic! Brilliant!” He was a ghost-- he didn’t need to breathe-- yet he was gasping for air between sentences. “I do believe this fledgling is roasting you. That’s what the kids are calling it these days.”

“Even from beyond the grave, you’re insulting and underestimating my knowledge of popular culture.” He needed more whiskey to deal with Ragnor and Simon at the same time. 

“Beyond the grave?” Simon squealed. “This is crazy. You’re talking crazy.” Simon paced the floor, his body hopping with energy. “Is this the sixth sense? Are you going to start telling me ‘I see dead people’?” The vampire stopped in his tracks, his sock-clad feet sliding slightly on the hard floors. “Is there some kind of warlock doctor I can take you to because you have officially lost--”

Ragnor took Magnus’ cue, picking up the whiskey and swirling it in his hand. In this form, he couldn’t drink, but going through the motions was the keystone of commiserating. 

Simon’s eyes  widened into two ping pong balls, threatening to escape his skull. He went through various stages of shock, from his face further paling, to rapid blinking. Each word he tried to speak came out as a jumbled stutter. 

“Wait, no I-- I shouldn’t be, um… impressed.” Simon wiped his shaking hand across his face. “G--” He choked on the word, his vampire tongue unable to utter anything religious. “Darn it-- I’m so stupid. You totally just moved that other glass with your magic.” He loudly whispered affirmations to himself. “ He just moved it with his magic, Lewis. He did that before a few minutes ago. Why would you think it was anything else?” Shaking the confusion from his face, he addressed a very perplexed warlock. Why would I think it was anything else?”

“He can’t see me, can he Bane?” Ragnor raised an unkempt eyebrow. 

“What would lead you to that assumption?.” Magnus slurped a dramatic sip of whiskey, savoring the honey-smoke flavor. “No, I don’t think he can.”

“You don’t think I can what?” Simon’s mouth hung agape, showcasing a new, partially grown canine filling the gap where it had been missing this morning.

“There’s a simple spell you can do to make me visible, but without me there to help I don’t know if you’re capable.” Ragnor taunted.

“I’m sure I can manage.” Magnus scrunched his mouth, his expression everything short of sticking out his tongue. After placing his drink safely on the table, he hovered his hands over Ragnor’s translucent head, chanting a simple mantra in a mixture of edomic and enochian, calling upon both extra-earthly realms. 

A form calling itself from dust and ash, Ragnor’s shape grew more opaque, making him visible to Simon.

“Holy shit, has he been here the whole time?” Cautious yet nosy, Simon walked over, delicately poking Ragnor’s arm. He was met with solid material, although the bounce was not flesh. Discreetly flaring his nostrils, he registered that this body was devoid of blood. The closest comparison was a malleable marble sculpture. 

“I just arrived actually. It took you all of five minutes to decline into utter lunacy.” He held the glass to his lips, his eyes sliding to Magnus. “I wonder what would happen if I drank in this form? Has it ever been documented?”

“I don’t believe it has, which makes me want to know more than anything. I’ll credit you when I catalog it of course.”

“Cheers, then!” They clinked glasses, Ragnor timidly taking a sip. “Well, it felt like it went down normally…” He stood, checking the fabric of the seat. “It didn’t go through me.”

“Very interesting… Drink more!” Magnus cheered.

“No! I’m putting my foot down. There’s only three hours until the wedding, and you’re still drunk as a skunk, Magnus!” Simon stomped his foot for emphasis, crossing his arms. 

“A wedding? I absolutely loathe weddings. Why on earth are you going to one, Magnus?”

“I’m not.” Magnus finished off his drink. If anyone were counting, this was whiskey #13. He pointed to Simon. “That one is. He’s apparently Clary Fairchild’s date.”

“Ah yes, she couldn’t go with her brother , now could she. Why aren’t you going, Magnus?”

“I--” Magnus started, only to be cut off by Simon.

“He’s not going because Alec is getting married, and he won’t tell Alec that he likes him, even though we all are getting these crazy flashbacks from this stuff called melody or something, and now everyone probably knows how much Alec and Magnus like each other, but he’s-- he in this sentence is Alec-- marrying this Lydia girl. She’s super nice and cool and pretty but… she’s a girl. Alec doesn’t even like girls. Magnus does, Camille told me that before she killed me, but he clearly is a glamorous bisexual because he looks at Alec like he’s chocolate cake covered in whipped cream. And--”

“My god, Magnus.” Ragnor sighed. “Does the thing ever stop talking?”

“Not often. Especially once you get him fired up.”

“Is what he’s going on about true? Is Alexander Lightwood getting married to a shadowhunter woman today?” Magnus nodded. “That explains why you are so tragically drunk. The vampire is right, you’re downright sloshed. Are you aware that you have spilled whiskey on yourself, the floor, and somehow on the ceiling?”

“The ceiling can be easily explained. See, I was throwing a pillow, and I’d spilled whiskey on that pillow…”

“Magnus…” Simon and Ragnor warned in unison.

“Vampire boy, what is your name?” Ragnor gestured to Simon, taking in his lanky, bookish frame. 

“Simon Lewis.”

“Simon Lewis, what are we going to do with him?”

Before anyone could answer, the telltale signs of a flashback hit, Magnus and Simon falling backwards into a lost memory.

 


 

“I don’t want to be a vampire anymore!” Simon declared, holding a pair of pliers. “I want to be a people again, so I can drink from the mortal cup and become a shadowhunter. Then, I can become Clary’s parabatai before we turn 19 so it’s all good in the hood of shadowhunter law.”

Everyone was rather impressed by Simon’s knowledge of shadowhunter lore, despite his inebriated state. 

“Cuz I mean, the law is hard, but it’s the law, right?” He gripped the pliers, aligning them with his canine. Preemptively wincing, he clenched down on his upper left vampire tooth, pulling down with all his enhanced strength. A loud cracking sound echoed in the night air. “One down, one to go!”

“Wait, but if Clary has a parabatai, and Jace and Alec are parabatai, then I never get a parabatai… I’ll be the only one parabatailess…” Izzy sulked for a moment before she was lifted from the funk by an idea. “You know what? I’m a strong, independent woman who don’t need no parabatai. I’m going to be my own parabatai. If only I had my stele to draw the rune…”

“Izzy, it is against at least seven Clave rules to draw the parabatai rune unauthorized. Not to mention what would happen if you drew the rune on only one person.”

“Relax big brother!” She giggled. “I was joking!”

“Sure you were Iz…” Jace chuckled.

“What I really meant to say was that I’m sure there are plenty of tattoo parlors open late at night in New York…”

Her grin stretched ear to ear spoke for itself-- she was going to get whatever she wanted. 

 


 

 

“That was depressing on so many levels.” Magnus’ eyes were wide, processing the small flashback. “I feel violated that I had to experience that type of desperation second hand. I know being a vampire makes you emotional, Simon, but dear lord. It was so melodramatic, like a teenage television show…”

“Says the man moping in his Canadian pied a terre over a soon-to-be-married shadowhunter boy? Tell me, Magnus-- do you think he’s dressed in his tuxedo yet? Rehearsing his vows? Practicing that stupid rune they draw on each other that looks like a ‘W’ inside of a moon?”

“It wasn’t really depressing. I was Isabelle.” Simon chimed. “She meant what she said. The level of confidence that woman has is incredibly sexy....” His voice trailed off in volume.

“You pulled out your own tooth just to try to make Clary happy. That’s sad.” Magnus’ eyes narrowed.

“Quit it you two. It’s all pathetic. This entire situation is pathetic. I mean, midli? I thought you decided to give that up after the time in Peru. You remember now, right? The one where you thought you were a cactus and threw needles at us?” Ragnor shook his head in disdain. “Midli always leaves you weepy mon chat d’or.

“It was not by choice. We were drugged. By a Herondale no less.”

“Why do you keep calling Jace a ‘Herondale’? What does that mean?” Simon, a bit drained from the flashback, took a seat in a leather armchair. 

“They are one of the most famous shadowhunter families.” Ragnor stated simply. 

“But Jace’s last name is Wayland I think? Oh! Wait! No! It’s Morgenstern. That’s right, the whole Clary’s brother thing and all.”

“You both can be so dense.” Magnus sank down, planting both feet firmly to the ground, his hips resting on the edge of the seat. “He looks exactly like a few other Herondales I knew back in the day. So forgive me if my senile brain keeps making the connection.”

“Oh wait, I do see the resemblance now. The boy came with you when I was attacked and killed. No way he’s a Morgenstern or Wayland. That boy is definitely a Herondale.”

“If that’s true… is he not related to Clary?” Simon sounded defeated.

“The last name barely matters. Almost all shadowhunters are related to some degree. That’s what happens when a population goes for centuries without diversifying. The whole thing is very… Freudian.” True to his character, Ragnor laughed at his own joke. 

Somewhere buried in the couch cushions was Magnus’ phone, tossed aside earlier to avoid death by Instagram stalking or uncomfortable group texts. Its buzz went ignored-- a single text from Alexander Lightwood. 

 

Chapter Text

The previous night

 

“Izzy!” Alec grabbed his sister by the bicep, his hand clasping over her permanent, black iratze rune as he pulled her into a dingy hallway. The incandescent lights buzzed, only two bulbs struggling to keep the corridor walkable. His stride was strong, determined, leading her far enough from the main bar area that the music faded into a muffled din. They passed a few stray couples, their bodies writhing against the dusty brick walls in throes of drunken passion. Satisfied with the distance between themselves and the group, Alec finally stopped.

“Alec, what is it?” Isabelle sensed that this conversation wasn’t something she was sober enough to handle, but she was a Shadowhunter-- she could do anything. It wasn’t the first time she needed to fake sobriety. Growing up in the institute, she had the unfortunate luck of running into her parents after trying to sneak in from a downworld rave. Each time, she did her best to wrap herself in a meticulously constructed lie, something about gathering intel on an open case. But this time, there wasn’t a motivation to fake it apart from being there for her brother, who seemed on the cusp of finally opening up to her. You can do this, Iz. She crossed her arms, leaning against the wall. Digging her long nails into her arm produced a sharp twinge of pain, just enough to keep her alert. 

“I don’t want to get married.” He spat the words out like they were fire, afraid to keep them in too long and burning himself. His anxiety suffocated him, leaving him panting as he sucked in greedy amounts of air. 

“I know you don’t.” Poor word choice, Iz. She silently cursed herself. There were thousands of things she could have said that would read as more . But instead, she was painfully blunt. 

“I thought I did. It would accomplish so many of my goals. It ticked all the boxes.” His chest rose, his shoulders creeping up. “But I’m going to be miserable. Magnus was right!” Izzy raised an eyebrow at this, not understanding the conversation he was referencing. Alec hadn’t told a soul about Magnus’ ultimatum. “None of this matters if I’m never going to be happy!” The pressure was building inside of him. His voice was creeping louder and louder, bouncing off the narrow walls. 

He kept talking, and Izzy just listened.

“And I thought I couldn’t be. I didn’t think it was something I could have. But I like him, Izzy. I really do. I like him a lot. Now that I’ve felt that… I can’t lose it.” He deflated, his neck and shoulders releasing their tension.

“Nobody can make you do this, brother.” She fondly placed her hands on his shoulders. “No amount of honor or duty is worth your happiness. Anyone who looks at you the way Magnus does is worth it. And you look at him like he is the force behind your bowstring, the name of your seraph blade.” Iz, that didn’t really make sense, your drunkness is showing. “I see that. I want that for you. You’re right, you can’t lose that. You need to go for it.”

“I’m calling off the wedding. I’m going to get someone else to invite Lydia here-- I don’t know where my phone is-- and I’m going to tell her. She deserves to hear it in person. And she deserves a drink or two afterward.”

 


 

Muffled through couch cushions, Magnus’ ringtone screamed for attention.

“Ughhh…” He groaned. ‘ Boss ass bitch’ was the song he selected for Isabelle Lightwood. Although Magnus couldn't be bothered to answer, Simon sprang to attention, bolting across the room and deftly digging out Magnus’ phone. He pressed ‘accept’ on the call, and pushed the phone into Magnus’ reluctant hand. 

“Hello, you’ve reached Magnus Bane. He’s currently very drunk, but still not drunk enough, leave a message after the--” He mimicked a ‘beep’ sound. 

“Magnus, this is Izzy.” She wasn’t in the mood for games. 

“Yes, yes, I’m aware. I have caller ID magdalena. ” His normal fondness was absent. He sounded distant, distracted, and even cold. 

“Cupcake? Really? What am I, a child? Your Spanish accent is awful, by the way.”

“Compared to me, you are barely a zygote in your mother’s womb.” His intonation was haughty and detached. 

“We don’t have time for this. I just had a flashback. I was Alec, and he poured his heart out to me--”

“I’m aware. I had this one too. I was you again. I’m sensing a theme here.”

“We can’t ignore what Alec said. There is no doubt now. He’s doing the wrong thing getting married today, and we can’t just stand idly by.”

“Standing idly by is exactly what we are going to do. At this point, Alexander has had plenty enough flashbacks to remind him why he wanted to call it off. From what I’ve been told, he’s still at the institute, getting ready so…”

“He’s in denial. You don’t understand how much pressure he’s under. If he’d heard the exact words ‘ I don’t want to get married’ coming from his own mouth, maybe he would finally accept it, but right now all he’s doing is distracting himself.”

“It is not my job to drag Shadowhunters out of the closet just because I’m the first shiny thing they see.”

“You know that’s not true. You heard what he said. He likes you, Magnus. Sometimes you have to be the bigger man, and in this case that means helping Alec admit what he wants. He needs the nudge-- to know how you feel. Just come, talk to him. After all, you were invited.”

“If I wanted to talk to him, I would have answered his texts or calls.”

“You’ve been ignoring him? Very mature.” 

“I’ve told Alexander before how I felt, and it didn’t change anything”

“Was that before or after you two made out in a karaoke bar?” There was a pause. “This might be your last chance, Magnus. I can’t force you or Alec do anything, no matter how idiotic you’re being. The Magnus I know isn’t a coward. He’d storm into this institute and fight for what he wants.” There was another long pause. “I won’t ask you again. At this point, it’s up to you.”

 

Click

 

If she hadn’t hung up the phone, Magnus would have been speechless regardless. The dial tone slammed into him at full strength, resonating through his core. She’d called him out; he’d been caught. As his upper lip twitched and his eyes grew warm, his blase exterior crumbled. He hated that Isabelle Lightwood was always right. 

 


 

In Isabelle’s room, the three girls huddled around her floor-length mirror, yanking at corset strings. Lydia braced herself against the vanity chair, knuckles white as she resisted the force of Clary and Isabelle.

“You need to take a deep breath in, pulling everything up!” Clary hissed. “Trust me, I helped plenty of people into their Renaissance Faire costumes in high school. This is the only way to get a corset to work!”

“I wouldn’t need this corset at all if my dress fit properly. I’m thankful Magnus restored it from the mess I made of it, but I wish he’d had the foresight to tailor it to my body.”

“You’re asking a lot of a warlock who technically doesn’t owe you anything…” Izzy mumbled. Her phone call with Magnus left her in a dour mood, leaving a sour taste in her mouth. “But you have a point.”

“I don’t understand, Lydia. This fit yesterday…” Clary switched angles, pulling horizontally against the corset.

“It fit before she drank a bunch of beer, at a ton of Thai food, and succumbed to the post-weed munchies. Shadowhunters usually stick to a clean diet of lean protein and vegetables.”

“Isabelle is right. The amount of sodium and alcohol I consumed most likely has me carrying around ten extra pounds of water weight. Which is unfair considering the bags under my eyes are likely from dehydration.”

“Well, whoever designed this dress was dumb.” Clary conceded. “Almost all wedding dresses have some kind of corset lacing in the back to give you a few extra inches of room to play around with. This dress only has buttons. Buttons which, if the dress is too tight, will pop off. God, where is Magnus when we need him…”

“He’s not here Clary. And he won’t be.” Isablelle snapped, leaving the other two girls wide-eyed and afraid. Isabelle faked a small smile. “I mean, what I meant to say is that I’m sure he has plenty of his own messes to clean up after last night. We can’t call him to ask him to tailor a wedding dress for free.”

“We definitely can’t afford his services.” Lydia pressed her lips into a thin line, turning sideways to look at her profile. Clary scooted behind her, maintaining the tension on the corset strings.

“I think this is as tight as it will go…” Clary used all her strength, pulling one final tug before twisting a secure triple knot. “Since this is the under corset, I’m going to add in a few safety pins, just in case the string breaks.” She reached over to the vanity, grabbed the first pin, gently opening it and placing it between her lips while she mapped out its placement. Just as Clary pressed a steadying hand to Lydia’s waist, a flashback hit.

 


 

The club wasn’t Pandemonium, it was far too mundane. The lights were brightly colored, lasers reflecting off of hundreds of mirrors scattered around the rafters. A DJ sat in a booth suspended from the ceiling, wearing a helmet like a robot astronaut. It was trying too hard. It was epic. It was full of people even more drunk than the crew from Alec Lightwood’s bachelor party.

Alec and Magnus were situated on the outskirts of the group, completely lost in each other’s touch. Izzy, Simon, and Lydia danced together in a small group,  Lydia bobbing to the beat while Simon and Izzy screamed out the lyrics to each Top 40 song remix. Their arms flailed above their heads, their dancing mostly jumping up and down and shaking their hips haphazardly.

“Wait, guys… where’s Clary?” Lydia yelled. Even intoxicated, she couldn’t turn off her shadowhunter skills of observation, constantly scanning for inconsistencies. 

“And where’s Jace…” Izzy slowed her movements, lowering her arms.

“No guys… I was having fun!” Simon whined. “This is just what Clary does… she has a tendency to run off but she always comes back!” He laughed to himself. “She also has a tendency to kiss people--”

As if the crowd was sentient, a line of sight formed between the three of them and an isolated couple. Clary and Jace were entwined as much as possible for two people with their clothes on. Ignoring the music, their mouths crashed together in sloppy kisses, Jace tangling his fingers through Clary’s frizzy, matted curls. His undercut hair was plastered to his forehead, swept to the side by the angle his face was pressed to Clary’s. The two Morgenstern siblings were liplocked, as if they had forgotten the recent revelation that they were both Valentine’s children.

“This is unacceptable.” Isabelle growled. It was time for damage control.  She was incredibly open-minded for a shadowhunter, but she had a strict zero-tolerance policy on incest. This was Alec’s night, and she wasn’t going to let Jace ruin it with his Morgenstern drama. It was unsavory enough that Jace and Clary kissed before they knew they were siblings, but now that they knew, there was no excuse. Izzy took advantage of the part in the crowd, using it as her runway. She pulled Clary by the back of her blue-sequined dress, no doubt a product of Magnus’ magic, and maneuvered her back to the group. “Lydia, go keep Jace occupied. I’m going to go put Clary somewhere where she can’t cause any more trouble.”

Approaching Alec and Magnus, she impatiently tapped her brother’s shoulder. “Alec?” He didn’t respond, instead, pulling Magnus’ back closer to his chest. “Alexander Gideon Lightwood.” She did her best Maryse impression. It worked, Alec immediately snapping his head up.

“What could you possibly need from me right now, Izzy?” He looked to Clary, his expression suddenly even less amused.

“I need you to keep an eye on her, dance with her for a few minutes. I caught her making out with Jace on the other side of the club.”

“I don’t see how that’s my problem…” Alec was on the defensive line. He didn’t want to let Jace and Clary’s problems stop him from having a good time. Especially when that ‘good time’ was Magnus Bane.

“He’s your parabatai. You should have noticed something was up in the bond.”

“How was I supposed to know who he’s making out with? When I feel that kind of stuff through the bond I politely ignore it.”

“Just humor me and keep her occupied with your terrible dancing. If we ignore this, we’re just going to end up with two drunk, crying, and ashamed Morgenstern siblings in an hour when they realize what they did.” He shoved her onto Alec, linking arms with Magnus in the process. “Plus, you’re hogging Magnus. He’s the only one who can keep up with my dance moves.” She punctuated the end of her sentence by shimmying her chest. 

The group clustered closer, Lydia returning a few minutes later with Jace.

“He was getting weepy and ranting about how awful he was for ‘wanting his sister’.” She winced, cursing herself for ending up in the middle of all this. “I had to bribe him with a shot of vodka to get him back in the partying mood.” She said as she rolled her eyes, linking her hands around his neck-- the dancing equivalent of shackles. 

Much to Alec’s dismay, Clary easily transitioned to dancing with him the second Izzy threw her to him, her limited mundane dance skills coming out in full force. 

“You’re sooo tall!” She cooed as she twirled around, brushing her ass against his groin with each turn. He tried to edge away, but she followed. “I love dancing with tall people!”  She turned to face him, and Alec mimicked Lydia, linking his arms around Clary’s petite frame. He hoped that this way, he could keep her relatively still. Instead, she snaked her arms beneath his, pulling him in by his shirt, rolling her chest into him to the beat of the music. She looked up at him through her dark brown lashes, biting her glittery-glossed lip. In that moment, Alec decided that drunk girls were incredibly annoying. Especially redheaded Morgenstern-Fairchild ones. 

“Do you want to know what my favorite thing about tall boys is?” She yelled over the music. Her narrow hips swayed side to side, a beat behind the music.

“I’m most certain I don’t--”

She jumped onto him, linking her legs around his waist, positioning her head level with Alec’s. As he stood there shocked, she locked her arms around his neck, catching him in a kiss. She pulled him tighter, tilting her head to the side and darting her tongue out to his lips. 

“Ugh-- gross!” Alec turned away, and in a single motion tossed Clary off of him above the crowd. She landed atop a field of raised arms, which thankfully assumed she was trying to crowd surf, carrying her away as she floated on her back.

“Isabelle, that is the last time I’m letting you pick who I dance with.” Alec wedged himself between Izzy and Magnus, stealing back the warlock for himself. 

“Guys!” Jace was nearly crying with laughter, spinning Lydia around before pulling her in. “You should have felt what that was like through the bond. It was like Alec was kissing his grandmother or something. It was hilarious. I think he might be the least-straight person in the world!”

“This takes Clary’s ‘I’m drunk and I’ll kiss anyone’ habit to a whole new level.” Simon and Izzy giggled, linking hands as they bobbed to the music. 

Chapter Text

“I think that was the worst one yet.” Clary groaned. “I want to find a place to hide and never leave there again. Does the shadow world involve bridge trolls? I’m pretty good at giving out riddles thanks to being Simon’s friend for 18 years…”

“Who were you this time Clary?” Izzy tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, trying to regain her composure. “Because I was you, and that was disgusting to me on so many levels. I had to kiss Jace and Alec. Although I did get to crowd surf...”

“I was Jace. I got to feel just how much Alec hated it through their parabatai bond. Plus, I had to kiss myself… my completely wasted self. I’m a terrible kisser while drunk.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, I thought you were adequate.” Lydia smoothed a hand over the front of her corset. “I was Alec. Just another form of torture I guess… I’m actually, uh, pretty thirsty. Do you think you guys could go get me some water? I can’t exactly go walking around the Institute in a corset or a robe.” Lydia needed a bit of space, and Clary and Isabelle easily caught on.

“Yeah, sure thing!” Izzy and Clary darted out of the room, determined to make their water run last as long as possible to give Lydia some alone time.

Sitting down in a corset was difficult, and the only way Lydia could relax comfortably was to lay face down on the mattress. After wrapping up in a silk robe, she flopped herself down. There was so much going on in her head that for once, she wished she had music to drown out her thoughts. A light knock on the door disrupted her solitude before it began.

“Hey, it’s Alec. I--” The tall, dark haired boy stuttered.

“You can come in.” Lydia called. Alec cautiously opened the door, stepping inside and locking it behind him.

“I saw Izzy and Clary leave, and I wanted to talk to you alone. There’s some stuff I just need to talk through with someone, and you’re the most rational person I know.”

“I uh, could use someone to talk to as well.”

Alec still wasn’t used to her casual tone, but it made him more at ease.

“You can come sit here with me if you want. We’ll be sharing a bed for the rest of our lives after all…” She rolled over to the other pillow, laying face up as she stared at the ceiling. Her robe drifted open, the top of her simple corset peeking out. 

“That thing seems really uncomfortable.” Alec pointed out, gesturing to her corset. Slowly laying down beside her. “It seems unfair compared to what I have to wear.” 

Lydia didn’t feel the need to cover herself. Not in front of Alec. What would be the point?

“Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe it. My two options are to lay flat, or to stand straight.” She took in a shallow breath, wincing at the pressure against her ribs. “You’re probably going to have to help me get up off the bed; I doubt I can sit up.”

Alec chuckled warmly, almost masking the tension in his demeanor. The ease fluttered away in the following silence. He couldn’t bring himself to breach the subject of why he came in here; why he locked the door behind him. It had taken enough courage to come here in the first place, and he’d run out of all his social currency for the day.

“Why did you come in here, Alec?” There was a detached sadness in Lydia’s voice.

Alec swallowed audibly, his breath speeding up. Lydia wanted to reach out and grab his hand. She wanted to comfort him and tell him that everything he was feeling was okay. But there were things that needed to be said-- things that Alec needed to say himself, out loud. She knew Alec’s secret, and she was sure he was aware she knew. But if they were going to go through with this union today, they needed to be as transparent as they both could manage.

“I’m not completely sure.” Alec was telling the truth. He knew he needed to talk to Lydia-- he knew the buildup of emotions that pulled him through the door-- but he had no idea how to express it. “It’s just… so much that I don’t know how to handle-- too much.” He closed his eyes, deeply inhaling. Everything smelled distinctively feminine, a mixture of rose, powder, and vanilla. A sharp smell of nail polish cut into the more organic scents, reminding him of all the times he watched Izzy paint her nails. “You painted your nails? What color?” Alec cracked one eye open. Lydia raised her hand in response, showing off a delicate, ballet pink. 

“Nothing exciting. I wanted to keep it… traditional. ” The last word stung. It added weight to the heavy tension that threatened to crumble the entire foundation of The Institute. “You’re changing the subject. If you came in here, it was for a reason. The Alec Lightwood I’ve come to know wouldn’t voluntarily talk about his feelings twice in one day.”

“How can I know what I want when there’s so much I’ve never had. I haven’t done anything before… well, before last night. And I don’t even remember it.”

Feeling uneasy, he resorted to his standard tactic-- keeping his hands busy. He brought his outside hand to his neck methodically massaging the tense muscle connecting his head to his shoulder.

“But you’ve seen it.” Lydia said.

“And so has everyone else.” He paused, his hand moving from worrying the spot on his neck to his face. Stretching his broad fingers, he rubbed his temples with his middle finger and thumb. “Other people have felt me do… things… that I’ve never felt myself.”

“You mean like kiss a man?” Lydia wanted to be gentle. The last thing she wanted to do right now was send him running back out of the room, not facing him again until they were on the altar. 

“No. I mean kiss anyone.” He was timid, a hint of shame behind his words. 

“You’ve never kissed anyone before?” It was quiet for a beat. Lydia suspected he had very little experience, but she never would have guessed he’d never been kissed. She’d been kissed. She’d experienced everything. Love, sex, companionship. She knew what she was getting into with this arranged union, but she could never offer Alec two of those things. 

“Not while sober. And apparently last night the only person I kissed was…” He couldn’t finish. He didn’t need to. 

“Well would you like to?” She struggled to roll onto her side, fighting against the restrictive corset. She wanted to face Alec and see his reaction.

“What? Kiss Mag-- I mean a… guy?” His eyes darted to the side nervously. Even though so many people knew, he still wanted to hide. At this point, he was only hiding from himself. 

“I know you want that , Alec.” She took the opportunity now to reach for his hand, a gesture of affirmation. “But I can’t exactly offer that. What I can offer… is a kiss. I know it won’t be the same but--”

“No, I want to try it.” He stiffened a bit, trying to strengthen his resolve. “Just because I want… well I’ve only wanted one type of person, doesn’t mean I can’t maybe learn how to like something else.” It was a naive sentiment. Lydia was so affected by the tragedy of his situation, by how honor and duty could bring him to such harsh realities,  that she almost cried.

“I don’t think it works like that. But hey--” She half smiled. “Look at me.” He turned stiffly to face her. “This can still be practice, right? That way, when we are up on the altar, you won’t be caught by surprise.”

He clenched his jaw, his cheek flexing, the tendon beneath his deflect rune jutting out of his neck. His hazel eyes blinked slowly, locking onto Lydia's, searching for something. Safety.

“I think that might be good.” He nodded, linking fingers with her hand wrapped around his. 

“Okay then. Alexander Gideon Lightwood, here is your first sober kiss. Are you ready?”

He nodded, closing his eyes and lightly pursing his lips. Lydia kept her eyes open for a second, taking in the sight. Before her was a man who wanted so badly to follow his duty, to make his family and the Clave proud. He wanted to be good. But he was already good, exactly how he was. Pushing aside her conflicting thoughts, she leaned a few inches forward, pressing her lips softly to his. She pulled away after one pregnant second, fluttering her eyes open to gauge a reaction she knew wouldn’t be positive.

What she never expected was for him to drop her hand, sliding his arms around her and pulling her on top of him. His mouth opened, his tongue darting out and brushing her lips. The muscle memory was clearly learned last night-- Lydia had experienced it herself. It was equally as strange in her own body, sober. She tried to lean into it, but there was no spark behind it. Each movement felt rehearsed. Just as quickly as he’d jumped in, he jumped out. His strong hands gripped Lydia’s sides, gingerly rolling her off of him and back to her side.

“You are very beautiful, Lydia.” He stated frankly. 

“But you didn’t feel anything, did you?” She sighed.

“No. Nothing.”

“I know. It was a convincing fake, though, if that’s what you were going for.” Lydia rolled onto her back. Alec needed space to think, and the least she could offer was to not stare at him.

“I just really wanted to try-- take what I saw myself do, what I remember, and have it make me feel something. I wanted to feel something.” He squinted his eyes shut in quiet frustration, clenching his hands into fists. 

“You weren’t going to. Like I said, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just tell yourself to feel something.”

“It was stupid. I was stupid. I…” He stammered.

“You’re not stupid. You’re trying to do what you think is right-- to follow your duty as a shadowhunter, to be a man of honor in the eyes of the Clave. There isn’t anything stupid about wanting to achieve things, especially if it’s what you believe in. But that doesn’t change that you’re gay.”

It was the first time she’d said it frankly to him. She didn’t dance around the subject or imply things. Alec opened his mouth a few times to speak, but he couldn’t find the words. 

“Have you ever said that out loud, Alec? Even just to yourself?”

His pulse quickened, his breath hitched. It was like a train had been slowly approaching him for years, and now it bore down, looming only two feet away. The loud blaring of the horn confused each of his senses, lights blinding his eyes. Rumbling tracks shook him to his core, and he felt like he might be struck at any second. 

“Just say it. It will make it a little bit--” Lydia urged.

He cut her off, quickly choking out the words.

“I’m gay!” His chest rose and fell dramatically in near-hyperventilation. The excess oxygen made him feel faint. Holding in one breath, he exhaled loudly, trying to center himself. He repeated the words, this time with more reverence. “I’m gay.” Lydia swore she heard him sigh in relief. “I’m gay, and I always have been. It’s never going to change.” The words were bubbling out of him.  He sat up abruptly, tossing his head back in a laughter that made Lydia nervous. “I’m gay. And I’m going to go get married to you--” He pointed to her. “I’m getting married to you so I can-- we can-- be good Shadowhunters. You know I’m gay, and you still want to marry me.” It felt so much better now that he said it out loud. 

“I do. I meant it when I said you were a man of honor. This is going to be a good partnership.”

“I could never fulfill my duty and be who I am openly. I want to run an institute with you. We can accomplish so much.” His voice evened as his face relaxed back into it’s normal, no-nonsense expression.

“But you’re still giving up so much, Alec. Just as ‘the law is hard, but it’s the law’, following your heart isn’t easy, but it’s still your heart. I can let you be discreet; you can try to have affairs. Maybe it will even work. Maybe you’ll never get caught by anyone else.” She rolled over off of the bed, swinging her legs down carefully so she could stand. “You’ll always be a good husband, and you’ll be an even greater dad. With all of that, and with an institute, you’ll have plenty of things to make you feel fulfilled. But you’ll never have love. Are you prepared to never have that?” She turned to face him. “I’ve been in love. I know what it’s like. It was the most powerful, wonderful, amazing thing I could have ever dreamt of experiencing. It was so strong and powerful, that I don’t think I could ever feel that way about anyone again. That’s why I’m okay with this.” She furrowed her light brown eyebrows, waiting for Alec to respond.

“Lydia,” He stood, crossing around the bed to stand next to her. “I can’t ever have that kind of open love. It’s something I’ve always known I could never have, therefore it’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I still want to do this, today-- as long as you’ll still have me.”

A flurry of knocks on the door disrupted them.

“Lyd!” Clary called. “We have your water, why is the door locked? Are you okay? Do you have cold feet?” 

Alec walked over to the door, deactivating the lock rune. Without saying another word, he opened the door, stepping around Clary, Izzy, and their precarious tray of waters. Izzy and Clary exchanged skeptical looks before walking in to join Lydia.

“What was that about?” Izzy questioned, sitting the cups down on her vanity.

“Nothing I didn’t already know. Let’s finish getting ready, we’re getting short on time.” She sat down on the vanity stool, taking a sip of water. “Who wants to do my hair and makeup?”

 


 

Alec stood at the altar, Jace at his side. Unbeknownst to the audience, the tension between the wedding party was suffocating. At the last minute, Brother Zachariah backed out of officiating the wedding, sending a fearsome, standard-issue silent brother in his place. Simon rushed in to sit next to Clary mere minutes before the ceremony started, sporting a perfectly tailored suit and a new haircut. 

The last few hours before the wedding had been strained. Flashbacks happened at an exponentially increasing rate, until nearly every gap in the night was filled in. This led to an ever buzzing group chat, a few makeup mishaps, a spilled glass of water, and in Simon’s case, nearly missing the time frame to portal to the Institute.

In the wings of the Institute’s cathedral, hidden behind its formidable carved doors, Lydia and Isabelle shifted nervously, waiting to make their entrance. When the music started to play, Isabelle squeezed Lydia’s arm gently before walking in ahead of her with the rings. Lydia was dizzy, although she couldn’t place if it was from her corset or the discomfort of her situation. She fiddled with her braid, making sure it was tossed over her shoulder just the right way. After waiting a few measures to space her entrance from Isabelle’s, Lydia walked through the open doors. 

Every guest stood at attention, throwing admirable glances her way. It was a reflex, a defense, plastering on a bright smile. She felt beautiful, honorable, and brave-- even if she had plenty of hesitations and doubts. It took ages to cross the room to the altar, giving her far too much time to think. Steeling herself, she gripped her bouquet of red roses with nearly enough force to break the stems. Alec glanced at her, but it was a rehearsed movement. His mouth opened and closed, taking in a deep breath. To an outsider, it might look like she took his breath away, but Lydia knew better. He was terrified. The entire situation was a very convincing act though, with each Clave dignitary and even Alec’s parents looking genuinely pleased.

When she reached the end of the crimson carpet, Alec reached out for her hand. The simple gesture was familiar, the grasp similar to when she’d grabbed his hand on the bed just a few hours ago. After passing off her bouquet, she and Alec stood face to face, the entire room silent before them. They shared a small conversation of only facial expressions, light smiles, and knowing glances as Lydia did everything she could to calm Alec’s nerves. When she saw him further square his shoulders and silently clear his throat, she knew it was time to keep going. 

Turning to Isabelle, she grabbed the cuff from the satin pillow, facing back toward Alec and sliding it over his wrist. Alec did the same, draping a delicate tear-shaped diamond-studded pendant around Lydia’s neck. The cool metal made her shiver. It was beautiful, just like this ceremony was-- from the outside. She traced her fingers over its many diamonds, her back still turned to Alec. 

Isabelle glanced at Lydia, not able to spare a smile. Instead, her plum-tinted upper lip twitched. During the last round of flashbacks, Isabelle’s support for the wedding faded dramatically. Her duty to her brother was the only thing that kept her from leaving. Lydia couldn’t let it distract her. She and Alec spoke about this. They’d made their decision. She turned, linking hands with Alec again, squeezing his hand comfortingly. 

The silent brother had no idea of the complex stares traded amongst the wedding party. Jace stole a glance at Clary, who paled in response to his piercing gaze, looking flustered. Isabelle was able to catch Alec’s eyes for a split second, pursing her lips in disapproval. Her plan had been thwarted. Despite her ultimatum to Magnus, he never showed. That was her last missile in her arsenal: the one variable out of her control-- the one person who had no duty to go along with the wedding. The wildcard was out of play.

It was time to draw the wedded union rune-- the last chance Alec and Lydia would have to back out of everything. Once they placed the runes on the hand and heart, the union would be solidified, requiring a complicated and messy divorce to remove them. The couple exchanged knowing, cautious smiles as the silent brother’s booming voice described the runes, only tuning back in when he was finished speaking. With one more glance, Lydia grabbed the ceremonial stele from the golden cushion and touched it to the stone. 

Her eyes searched Alec’s, the stele glowing as it hovered over his palm.

This is the last chance. There’s no going back now. Her eyes pleaded, looking for affirmation. Alec’s lip quivered, but he let out a small sigh. He gave her the faintest ghost of a nod. Taking in a deep breath, she lowered the stele millimeter by millimeter, hoping that her hesitation appeared natural rather than suspicious to the audience. 

Before stele could meet skin, the doors to the cathedral flung open. A rush of air rustled the tapestries and flowers, swaying stray locks of hair and sending a chill across any bare skin.

Magnus bane came striding into view, framed by the vine-covered stone walls. Betraying the bold gesture, there was something anxious in the way he carried himself. His walk was determined, but his normal swagger was absent. He stepped a few paces down the red runner, adjusting his jacket as he moved.

What’s that warlock doing here?” Maryse whispered, but her voice echoed in the stone hall. Everyone could hear her, and the audience responded in a chorus of shocked mumbles. Flames nearly radiated from her skin, her anger so easily palpable. 

Alec and Lydia froze in place-- Alec breathless as he looked at Magnus, Lydia breathless at how quickly Alec’s icy resolve was melting. Stark silence fell on the room as Maryse, in abandonment of propriety, stood up, fuming as she stalked to the warlock.

Jace took advantage of the situation, whispering to Izzy. 

Izzy, did Alec invite Magnus?” Jace was rather dense, so it made little sense to him why Alec would do that. At the same time, he didn’t know who else would have invited the warlock, and it seemed unlikely that Magnus would show up to a sacred shadowhunter ceremony uninvited.

“I did, but I didn’t think he’d show.” Her eyebrows rose in disbelief, an optimistic, toothy grin stretching across her face. She was proud-- her ultimatum worked. Her joy was short lived though, as Maryse aggressively confronted Magnus. Maryse could have pulled Magnus into the hall; she could have made an attempt to cause less of a scene. Instead, she chose to address him in the middle of the room, in the middle of the audience, in the middle of the cathedral, and in the middle of the ceremony.

“Magnus-- leave this wedding… now.” She commanded. Magnus was unaffected by her intimidation tactics, walking past her as he held up his fingers to silence her. A few guests gasped at the downworlder’s display of disrespect. 

“Maryse, this is between me and your son.” He turned to face the altar, taking a subtle breath to strengthen his resolve. “I’ll leave if he asks me to.”

Now it was just Alec and Magnus, their eyes locked across the distance. Magnus planted his feet on the carpet, determined and unmoving. Alec, on the other hand, grew dizzy. His breath hitched, his hand grew sweaty, still outreached in the position for Lydia to draw the rune. Realizing he hadn’t moved since the moment the doors opened, he dropped his arms to the side, trying and failing to pull himself together. 

“You gonna be okay, buddy?” Jace asked his parabatai. Through the bond, he could feel the panic surging through Alec. Their hearts beating as one, Jace tried to shake it off, but he knew he couldn't do anything to calm Alec right now. Even the calm rune, which Jace had activated for Alec before the wedding, wouldn’t do anything to help what his parabatai was feeling.

“Alec…” Lydia whispered, smiling as she touched his arm. She snapped him back to reality, saving him from a bought of hyperventilation that would have likely ended in fainting. Her voice was soothing, her smile was warm and gentle. “Hey..” She let out a single laugh, trying to comfort him. 

“I…” He closed his eyes, his chest shaking. He’d never experienced anxiety like this before. His eyes darted side to side aimlessly, as if searching for an exit to escape his own reality. Trying to inhale deeply through his nose, he grew more flustered, only able to take in a minuscule breath. He let it out shakily, escaping his lips in choppy spurts. “I can’t breathe.”

His mouth was dry, the words scratching and clawing from his throat. 

“I know,” Lydia smiled, shaking her head. She understood how he was feeling, and she wanted to let him know that no matter what was about to happen, she still supported him. His breathing grew even more belabored, despite all of her attempts. “It’s okay.” 

Magnus coming in was a curve-ball nobody had expected, but Lydia assumed that it likely wouldn’t change anything. Alec had been so candid and steadfast in his decision, and it would be incredibly unlikely for him to turn back now, in front of his parents and clave dignitaries. If he backed out of this wedding in response to Magnus walking in, people would talk.

Through all of this, Magnus stood resolute. Every second that passed threatened to break him, to make him walk right back out the door and leave. He wasn’t sure what he expected to happen. After Isabelle’s ultimatum, he knew he would have to make a statement, to show Alec how he felt before it was too late. True to his melodramatic personality, he’d decided to go for the biggest gesture of all, even if it ended up costing him everything. His emotions fought to consume him, and Magnus struggled to ground himself just enough to not get swept away. The only sound was the mumbling of Alec, Jace, Izzy and Lydia at the altar, too far away for him to hear. Time continued to tick, but Magnus refused to let his gaze falter, eyes set on Alec both physically and metaphorically. 

“I can’t do this.” Alec turned to Lydia, watching as her face fell. She felt a mixture of shock, admiration, pride, and fear. “I thought we were doing the right thing, but this isn’t it.”

“You don’t have to explain.” She stood tall, proud of the fact that Alec finally made his decision-- even if it was at an inopportune time. 

“Lydia, I’m sorry.” He was sincere.

“Hey.” She cupped his cheek in her hand, the gesture speaking louder than any words could. “You deserve to be happy, okay?” She stroked her thumb across his cheekbone, watching as the touch settled his breath. In that moment, Alec was incredibly happy that despite everything he’d put her through, he and Lydia shared a strong friendship. Without that, he wasn’t sure how he’d survive this. 

“I’ll be fine.” She said the words with a confidence that calmed Alec’s nerves. With one more pat on the cheek, she nudged his shoulder, encouraging him forward to face Magnus. As Alec stepped forward, she bit her lip, unsure of what would happen next.

Alec was about to make a decision he couldn’t take back. Something that would forever change his career as a shadowhunter, his relationship with his family, the trajectory of his life. She knew it was one of the hardest things he would ever have to do. 

Facing forward, Alec tried to look confident as he paused for a few more seconds. Every flashback from the night before flooded into his memory-- his actions, his feelings-- all of them orbited around the gorgeous, magenta-haired warlock in front of him. Magnus’ face started to change, tensing into an expression of muffled doubt, unsure of what Alec would say as he addressed the room. Would he tell Magnus to leave? Would he call off the wedding without explanation? Would he scream, ‘I’m Gay!’ and run out the door before anyone could catch him and send him to shadowhunter jail? The last one was unlikely, but Magnus wasn’t exactly sure what would happen to a gay shadowhunter. 

His nerves only grew sharper as Alec stepped off the altar, squaring his shoulders and slightly furrowing his brow in determination. It must have been his imagination, but Magnus swore he saw the slightest twitch of a smile as he made eye contact with Alec. Something about it made Magnus’ tension lift, even if it was only the smallest bit. The shadowhunter marched forward without a word, dead set on a goal that was still unclear.

Maryse must have sensed the intent in her son’s actions, pushing past the warlock to meet Alec in the middle. He didn’t even stop, stepping around her and refusing to even spare her a glance.

“Enough.” He nearly growled. Now he stared at Magnus-- no, into Magnus. A heat grew in the distance between them, Magnus completely still while Alec drew closer.  That’s when Alec smiled- a closed mouth, crooked smile-- something like a smirk but with a deeper fondness behind it. Before Magnus could parse exactly what the intent behind it was, Alec was grabbing at the lapels of his black jacket, catching him in a deep, passionate kiss. As if Magnus had never been kissed before, he stiffened, his arms trapped at his sides. After the initial few seconds of disbelief wore off, he realized he was already kissing Alec in a way that felt more natural than his own magic.

At some point, the room had collectively gasped. Alec’s siblings glowed in admiration. His parents were ready to wage war. But neither man noticed-- they stayed tangled together. Alec didn’t just kiss Magnus once— he continued to do so, their mouths locked only to briefly pull apart for air before Alec leaned back in for another attack. It was a bit sloppy, a bit loud, and incredibly hungry. Alec eventually broke the kiss to look at Magnus, to see his reaction. Magnus, his glitter-covered eyes still closed, chased after Alec’s lips, the ultimate signal of approval. Alec couldn’t help but dive back in, this time with Magnus wrapping his arms around the shadowhunter’s waist.

They would all have to deal with the aftermath, but right now they were going to revel in it. After twenty four hours full of being drunken fools, repressing emotions, and having painful hangovers, they were going to enjoy this. And Alec hoped he would keep enjoying this forever.