He wasn’t listening to what the other man was saying. He was pretty sure it was the usual – something about taking care of his health or being more responsible. Or both. He means well, of course. But there would be a million other things Magnus would be doing on a Monday morning than listen to this not-so-new lecture.
“Are you even listening to me?” the other man asked.
“Yes. Yes. You were saying something about…Well, you were definitely saying something,” Magnus replied, playing with his jacket.
“Magnus, this is not a joke!” said the other man, his tone slightly serious now.
“Of course not. If it were, I’d be laughing, won’t I?” Magnus countered cheekily.
This was not the attitude one should take with their boss, at least not if they want to keep their job. But his flippant insubordination comes mainly from the knowledge that regardless of what he does, he will not receive anything more than an exasperated “Magnus, not again!”
The exemption did not mean that he usually fucked up a lot. Underneath the attitude – and multiple layers couture – he was a professional. He was one of those people who were never told off because they always get the job done. Regardless of what he did during his personal time, people could always count on Magnus Bane to deliver.
He has been heading the operations and overseeing all projects of Edom Incorporated for the last four years. One could say that he basically runs the company.
It wasn’t easy running one of the top construction companies in New York. It took most of his time, effort and energy. But Magnus would be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy his job. After all, he had been groomed to do this since he was a child.
Luckily, he wasn’t one of those uptight jerks who turned into sour workaholics. He always knew just how to balance his personal and professional lives. Yes, sometimes one of them fucked the other over. He could remember the lovers who had left him because they couldn’t keep up with his schedule. And there have been times when his penchant for partying had made him miss an important flight or twelve.
But he always got the job done - Which was why he was thoroughly annoyed that he had to listen to the other man blabber on and on about the importance of the Blackthorn contract.
“I know you are confident about your abilities and so am I. But you have to remember that the Blackthorns are from…Angel Square,” the other man said.
Ugh, Angel Square.
Not to be over-dramatic or anything, but Angel Square was literally the worst place in the entire planet. It wasn’t just a place, but rather an amalgamation of some of the most affluent places in New York. This included Soho, Lincoln Square and of course, the Upper East and West sides.
People from Angel Square made their wealth by exploiting every other borough of New York.
These people called themselves Shadowhunters.
Apparently, the name was created by one of their ancestors, some racist prick called Jonathan something, who had proclaimed that it was the solemn duty of those born in Angel Square - those who were now referred to as Shadowhunters - to save the city of New York from shadows that lurked around. In his attempt to make New York a better place, the man had phenomenally fucked things up.
The Shadowhunters of Angel Square were made of old money. There were some of the most richest, influential and powerful people in New York – Basically uptight, snobbish, prejudiced pricks.
“They want to build something in the Downworld and therefore, they are going to need us. So, it doesn’t matter if the Blackthorns are from Angel Square.” he said, now his voice suddenly all serious and businesslike. He hated how the thought of those fuckers could ruin his mood in an instant.
“Of course it matters!” the other man said through gritted teeth, “Blood calls for blood.”
“The Blackthorn family has members from the Downworld too,” Magnus reminded him.
“As if that has ever mattered,” the other man sighed tiredly.
Even as he said it, he knew that it wasn’t really a strong argument. Helen and Mark Blackthorn may belong to the Blackthorn family, but he knew that the respect they got in the industry was significantly less when compared to their siblings - much younger, inexperienced siblings. This discrimination was solely based on the fact that Helen and Mark were born and raised in the Downworld, just like Magnus himself.
He used to hate the name Downworld. His blood used to boil every time he was referred to as a Downworlder. But now, it didn’t bother him as much.
The Shadowhunters of Angel Square had named the less affluent parts of New York as the Downworld since they believed that people from these areas were beneath them. So, if you are from South Bronx or Brooklyn or god forbid Staten Island, you would be considered as a Downworlder. People from these areas, people referred to as Downworlders, were those that worked for minimum wage under Shadowhunters. In the old times, centuries ago, some people from the Downworld were even taken as slaves.
So, it was no surprise that the animosity between Angel Square and Downworld ran deep.
Just as they were starting to make some economic progress in the Downworld, about a couple of decades ago some people from Angel Square, under the leadership of a madman, had taken it upon themselves to ‘clean the streets’ of Downworlders.
They had taken the name Shadowhunters rather seriously, as this group of youngsters had considered themselves to be hunters of the shadows that lurked at night. In reality, these ‘shadows’ were children from poor families stealing out of poverty and their so called ‘hunting’ had been the butchering of innocent lives.
Their dream of building a better and safer New York had led to the deaths of countless Downworlders and resulted in the destruction of most of their properties. The 80's Riots had changed all their lives forever.
And that was when the Downworld decided that they have had enough. They took ownership of the name that was used to insult them. Now they proudly called themselves Downworlders. Twenty years later, after much hard work and dedication, they had come a long way.
Of course, not everyone did. Unfortunately, the world did not work that way.
There are still many from the Downworld who had to resort to criminal behavior and suffered from poverty, but Magnus believed that he could change that. He had been fortunate enough to be born into a family that had made it through. Actually, he belonged to the most popular and influential family in the Downworld.
Even though he lived in Brooklyn Heights now – which was not a part of Angel Square, Thank God, but was still one of the better neighborhoods in the city – Magnus had lived in the worst of circumstances for most of his childhood.
So, even if he is considered as one of New York’s most eligible of bachelors now, Magnus knows what it is like to starve. He still remembers what it feels like to be hunted. And even after all these years, he still knows what it feels like to be discriminated solely because of where you were born. It didn’t matter that he was richer than most in Angel Square – he was always regarded as a Downworlder.
Prejudice is not something you can erase with any amount of money.
God, there was nothing he hated more than Angel Square.
This was why he worked hard every single day. This was why he had given up on his dream of travelling the world and returned to New York to run Edom Incorporated. Someone had to put the people of Angel Square in place, and it may as well be him.
“Have I ever let you down in the past?” he asked.
“No, you haven’t. Edom is thriving because of your efforts. We have won every single building contract since you set foot in here. I have every faith in you, Magnus,” the other man confessed, his voice sincere and proud.
“But…You know who else is going to be there this afternoon.”
“Lightwoods,” Magnus spat.
The name tasted like poison in his mouth. The Lightwood family has been on top of the food chain in Angel Square since the beginning. And as expected, every member of the family was a vicious, vindictive, self-righteous jerk.
Not only were the Lightwoods their number one rival and the owners of Idris Incorporated, but they also were involved in the destruction of the Downworld during the 80's Riots.
So, the antagonism was highly personal between the Lightwoods and his own family.
“We cannot let the Lightwoods win this contract,” the other man said with a sense of urgency, “You know what happened last time when Shadowhunters tried building something in the Downworld.”
“I do,” Magnus said, his voice trembling slightly.
He didn’t want to think about what happened the last time the Lightwoods had taken up a big contract in the Downworld. It was still too early in the morning and, even after twenty years, still too soon.
Edom had won almost all the major contracts in Downworld in the last decade. They have been constructing schools, hospitals, shopping malls and anything you can name left, right and center to expedite the development of their territory. Of course, the Lightwoods were not happy with this situation but there was nothing they could do about it either.
So, the Lightwoods have mostly been working on contracts within Angel Square for the recent years. But those relentless fuckers from Idris Inc. kept coming back every single time, trying to pry the opportunities away from the Edom.
Well, that wasn’t gonna happen – Not as long as Magnus was there.
He got up from his seat and adjusted his jacket, “This project is happening in the Downworld. I will not let anyone from Angel Square move a single brick in our home.”
“That’s my boy,” the other man smiled.
“I will come back with good news, father,” Magnus promised and left the room.
As he walked out of his father's office and towards the entrance, he ran into his childhood friend and most trusted advisor, who was waiting for him by the car with a serious look on his face. The boy was also a giant pain in the ass, but that was up for debate depending on Magnus’ mood.
“You look like a man on a mission,” Magnus said, in the way of greeting him.
“And you are late,” Raphael snapped.
“I know. My meeting with father ran later than expected,” he explained as he got into the car.
“It would have finished on time if you had got there early in the first place,” Raphael murmured as he got behind the wheel and took off.
So, Raphael was leaning towards 'pain in the ass' today. Great!
“Have you settled on a strategy for today’s meeting?” Raphael asked as they made their way out of Brooklyn.
“I don’t need a strategy. I just need to be my usual charming self,” Magnus shrugged.
“Magnus,” Raphael let out an exasperated sigh, “You can’t flirt your way through everything!”
Magnus turned to face the other man, “Is that a challenge?”
Raphael rolled his eyes at that. “Helen Blackthorn is happily married and from what I know, Mark is taken too. So, unless you are planning on flirting with the Lightwoods…”
Magnus made a loud, disgusted noise to show how repulsive the suggestion was, “I would rather die.”
They went back to their usual comfortable silence and drove towards to their meeting point, which was not surprisingly, in Upper East Side. The Blackthorns might have connections in the Downworld but they still considered themselves to be Shadowhunters – And no child of the angel would dare to visit his side of town.
As he looked over the neighborhood he grew up in, he realized how much has changed for him. He might be the son of Asmodeus and the sole heir to Edom. But it wasn’t always like this. He remembers his parents working in Angel Square just like everyone else from the Downworld. He remembers his parents sacrificing their meals so that he could eat.
And most importantly, he remembers how the mighty Shadowhunters lavished in their fancy homes, while his neighbors slowly started to disappear one by one - out of poverty and crime.
Magnus wasn’t jealous. No, it wasn’t jealousy.
It was anger. He was angry at the flawed system that allowed one part of the city to enjoy life extravagantly while the other barely even existed. He was angry at the fact that no one from Angel Square thought of building a better world for those from the Downworld even though they had the means to do it.
To own his disappointment he had come to realize, that if you want to change world, you had to do it yourself.
Edom has been working on reducing poverty in the Downworld for the last decade. The employment rates had gone up, birth mortality was steady and more children were going to school now. But it wasn’t easy, thanks to the Shadowhunters from Angel Square.
This was what pissed him off the most.
“You know what pisses me off the most about Shadowhunters?” he asked Raphael, putting extra emphasis on the last word.
“Their ignorance about fashion despite all the wealth?” Raphael snickered.
“Ugh, that too,” Magnus shuddered. Despite being the wealthiest people in town, Shadowhunters were the stingiest bunch he had ever met. They preferred not to spend money on fashion or any other personal pursuits. They hogged all their money and kept reinvesting it on their businesses. Someone really had to teach those uptight assholes to loosen up and live a little.
“I hate how they never help us. They never once thought of helping the Downworld even though they are loaded. They never helped us rebuild the Downworld even though they were the reason why it was destructed in the first place. But what I hate most is that they are hindering our interventions to help the Downworld too. I am fine with them being selfish jerks that hoard all their money. But why the fuck are they preventing us from making ourselves better?”
“You know why, Magnus,” Raphael sighed heavily.
Of course, he knew. At this rate, if Edom keeps up it’s development process, the entire Downworld would become a metropolitan area in less than a decade. In other words, Angel Square would no longer be the wealthiest part of New York. This terrified the Shadowhunters spread throughout the city. They were not comfortable with giving up their status as the most powerful beings in town.
So, they kept sabotaging. Every time Edom tried to start a project under the Downworld Development Plan, they would get involved. The project always got approved, but Edom had to face unnecessary delays and extra expenses. This ultimately postponed the progress of the Downworld.
No matter how hard the Downworld tried to move on from the past, the Shadowhunters kept giving them more and more reasons to fight back.
As they reached Blackthorn Co. a hotel chain from LA that was trying to expand in New York, specifically in the Downworld, Magnus put on his game face.
Alright, time to do this shit!
They both got out of the car and started moving towards the building. They had almost reached the boardroom without any incidents when they noticed him standing outside.
“Ah, look! The Spanish Inquisition is here!” the blonde announced to no one.
Ugh, his Monday morning could not get any worse.
“I’m Mexican, you ignorant imbecile!” Raphael bit back, “If you are going to insult me, at least do it properly for god’s sake.”
“Meh, you are all dirtbag Downworlders,” the other man shrugged.
Before Raphael could respond, Magnus intervened. “Raphael, we are here on a mission. We can’t afford to get our dirty hands any dirtier.”
“Awww. Are you girls scared of getting your ass kicked?” Jace chuckled.
“It’s 2019, Herondale. Quit the sexist jokes,” Magnus warned.
Jace Herondale, an integral part of Idris Inc. was considered as one of the most prized possessions of Angel Square. Born to Stephen and Celine Herondale, similar Magnus, he was the sole heir to one of the biggest companies in the city. But he had lost both his parents in the riots twenty years ago. Everyone knew his tragic tale and everyone sympathized.
But what everyone did not know was that there were hundreds of children who were orphaned in the Downworld during the riots. These children did not have grandmothers who were part of British Royalty nor did they have a loaded foster family to adopt and raise them as one of their own.
Unlike Jace Herondale, these children had to resort to petty crime to survive. Some children had to resort to worse measures. So, Magnus was really fucking tired of this blond prick getting away with his rude and racist behavior just because he was a tragic victim of the 80's riots.
They were all victims of the riot, some more than others.
Just as the blonde boy was about to retort, something racist or sexist Magnus was sure, the door opened and he walked out.
Magnus was wrong. His Monday morning could indeed get much, much worse.
He knew he was going to run into him today. After all, he was the heir to Idris Inc. and their strongest asset. But Magnus had been hoping that they wouldn’t have to exchange words outside the meeting – because the other man always brought out the worst in him.
“Lightwood,” he spat.
“Bane,” the other man said in equal contempt.
Alec Lightwood – his arch nemesis. Enough said.
Some people, Magnus had come to realize, were just not worth your time.
“Jace, they are ready,” he said to his brother. Jace gave them a cocky grin and followed his brother in.
“If I try to throttle the blonde one to death-”
“You have my blessing,” Magnus finished and walked into the board room.
He noticed Helen and Mark Blackthorn seated at the head of the table, which showed some promise about their prospects this afternoon. He gave them both a quick smile and took his place opposite the Lightwoods.
The Blackthorns explained the details of the project, although all parties had been extensively debriefed a week earlier. Still, Magnus listened intently to every word, hoping he could capitalize on anything they say.
After explaining the timeline and the budget, Helen Blackthorn looked over at the table with slight hesitation.
“The Hotel, as you know, will be a branch of our chain in LA. After the...unfortunate incident last year, we are hoping to do some damage control in New York. So, it is of utmost important to us that all goes well. Now I know that both Idris and Edom are…reputed organizations. We have absolute faith in your abilities, but we can only offer the contract to one of you. So, gentlemen - The floor is yours.”
Lightwood, as usual, cleared his throat and seized the opportunity first.
“Thank you, Helen,” he gave her a polite nod, “I hope Julian, Ty, Livvy, Dru and Tavvy are doing well. Please give them my best.”
This nepotistic douchebag!
“I have already shared all our latest stats with you via email. It shows that Idris has been on top of the game for the last decade. You said that you wanted the best and I can guarantee you that we will offer nothing less,” he declared with all the confidence of an arrogant snob.
“Mr. Lightwood is indeed right,” Magnus intervened gently with a polite but fake smile on his face. “Idris is indeed at the top of the game. But this specific project is taking place in the Downworld. And I have to commend the Blackthorns for this bold move. The Downworld economy is increasing by the day and I am glad you have decided to invest on us.”
“However-” Lightwood tried to take control of the room again.
“However, indeed.” Magnus smoothly got back on track. “If you are going to build a hotel in the Downworld, it only makes sense to trust the contract with a company from the Downworld. Idris might be best in Angel Square, but I am not sure how well they will be received in the Downworld after the riots.”
“That was twenty years ago!” Herondale complained, “I think Idris getting involved would be a good idea. We will finally be able to build a bridge between the two sides.”
“Oh, please” Raphael snorted, “The only thing you want to build is your own profits.”
“What my partner is trying to say is,” Magnus said, sending a quick glare towards Raphael, “It will be difficult for Idris to identify the right local resources for the project. They do not know the Downworld like we do. They will have to outsource almost every single resource, including the construction workers.”
“So, what if we do? We’ll still get the job done,” Jace shrugged.
Spoken like an entitled prick from Angel Square, Magnus thought, but did not say out loud.
“Mr. Herondale,” he said calmly as possible, “The livelihoods of most of those who live in the Downworld depend on their monthly wages. If you outsource people for the project, you are taking away the opportunity from the locals. You are directly affecting the economy and development of the Downworld.”
“I am sure they will be able to find something else,” Jace responded negligently.
“I am not sure if you’ve noticed, Mr. Herondale. But people from the Downworld do not have the privilege of multiple options. We make do with what we get,” Magnus responded with a slight edge to his voice.
Lightwood noticed the growing tension between the two parties and decided to intervene.
“It is true that we don’t have access to the same local resources as Edom. And I know that it can affect their economy. But the whole point of this project is to sustain the economy in the Downworld. For example, once the hotel is built, I am sure they will be able hire people from the Downworld and solve the employment crisis. Is that not right, Mark?”
Sometimes he wanted to punch Lightwood in his perfect teeth.
“Of course,” Mark offered, “Our plan is to hire as many locals as possible to foster the Downworld economy.”
“So, what do you suggest they do till the hotel is built?” Raphael asked, “Starve?”
“There are multiple projects happening in the Downworld due to the rapid development phase. I am sure it will not be an issue,” Lightwood replied.
While that may be true, what these entitled asshats did not understand was that Downworld families needed sustainable jobs. They needed to work with one company on the long run to enjoy the same employment and health benefits like anyone else in the city. It did not help them to jump from one contract to another.
“We might not be from the Downworld, Mr. Bane,” Lightwood said, now flipping through a file, “But we know all about it. We have done comprehensive data analysis to understand the Downworld economy. Our report on annual income shows that 55.6% of women are still unemployed. We also found that 32.8% of colle-”
“With all due respect, Mr. Lightwood,” Magnus said, trying to sound not as angry as he felt, “These are people, not numbers on a piece of paper.”
He looked the Blackthorns now, who seemed quite uncomfortable with the whole ordeal. “I am sure that their report will be very useful. But there is nothing in those papers that will tell you about our lives or what we are going through each day. That is not something you can ever grasp with your comprehensive data analysis.”
He decided that this was enough, got up from his chair and buttoned up his jacket.
“I think we have made our stand quite clear. Just one more thing before I leave,” Magnus said, before making a dramatic pause.
Lightwood huffed out a breath and sagged back into his chair.
And that is how Magnus knew he had him, once more.
“You mentioned that this project is an attempt to salvage your reputation after what happened in LA last year. I am deeply sorry about the incident. No one deserves to be discriminated for who they are.”
He remembers the social media scandal that took Blackthorn Co. by storm after one of their employees had been incredibly homophobic and disrespectful towards a gay couple that was staying at their hotel. Someone had videoed the whole thing and the social media backlash had been huge. The hotel occupancy rates dropped dramatically after the incident and it is no wonder that the Blackthorns were trying to branch out in an effort to protect their business.
“I might be wrong here,” Magnus continued, “But I have never seen Idris make any stand whatsoever on the discrimination faced by the LGBT community in New York. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen them participate in New York pride. Not even this year. Maybe I missed them...You know how crowded it gets. Isn’t that right, Raphael?”
Raphael understood Magnus’ game plan and gave him a satisfied smirk.
Magnus looked over at Helen and Mark now, both of whom were proud supporters of the LGBT movement in LA, “Edom, on the other hand, has been involved in LGBT activism not only in New York but internationally as well. We have a zero tolerance policy against homophobia and ensure that we give equal opportunities in employment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. I am sure that Idris does the same but…I haven't really heard of anything of that sort. What have you been doing for the community, Mr. Lightwood?”
The man in question had the grace to look embarrassed. But Magnus couldn’t help but notice that there was something more than embarrassment in his eyes - Something that looked like regret…or guilt even.
When the Lightwoods had no response to that, Raphael decided to seal the deal, “What’s more, the face of Edom, is that of a proud bisexual man. If you are looking for publicity and good press, well, you can’t get a better deal than this.”
Magnus knew that they had the deal in the bag when he had read the briefing package and noticed that this entire plan by the Blackthorns was a last attempt at salvaging their tarnished reputation in LA. He could have just sent all of these details via email and saved the unnecessary drama.
But the disappointed look on Alec Lightwood’s face right now....It was worth all the trouble.
“I have every faith that Blackthorn Co. would make the right call. Good day to you all,” he said as he left the room.
Another win for the Downworld.
Well, it wasn’t official yet. But the Blackthorns would be crazy to offer the contract to anyone other than Edom after that show.
They made their way to the parking lot, discussing possible ways of celebrating tonight. Raphael suggested a quiet night in and Magnus booed.
“It’s your father,” Raphael said looking at his phone now, “He probably wants to ask you about the contract. Why can’t he call you directly?”
“Because he knows I won’t pick up,” Magnus grinned cheekily.
“Boludo,” Raphael said rolling his eyes and walked away to pick up the call.
“Sir,” he heard Raphael speaking to this father as he walked away, “Uh, Magnus is…in the washroom, I think.”
Magnus thanked all the gods in heaven for sending him Raphael. Of course, he would talk to his father later. But right now, he didn’t want to deal with his insistent questions. Right now, he wanted a warm bath, a medium-rare steak and a martini.
He was about to get into the car when he heard the voice.
“Do you have no shame?”
He turned around and noticed Alec Lightwood walking towards him. Ugh, it seemed like he is going to need more than one martini to get through the evening.
“Don’t be such a sore loser, Lightwood,” Magnus said.
“I wouldn’t have lost the contract if you hadn’t exploited your sexuality!” he spat.
“I wouldn’t have had to exploit my sexuality if you hadn't decided to outsource employees for the project!” Magnus countered.
“I don’t have a choice. How am I supposed to source them otherwise? Most Downworlders don’t want to work for people from Angel Square!” Lightwood said in a frustrated tone.
“Gee, I wonder why,” Magnus said as sarcastically as possible.
“You shouldn’t have played the bi card!”
“And you shouldn’t have played the I-am-Your-Cousin Card!”
“I am their cousin!”
“And I am bi!” Magnus said, his raised voice echoing through the parking lot, “You can hate me all you want for it.”
The other man laughed at that. “I don’t hate you because you are bisexual. I hate you because you are a fucking asshole.”
“Yeah well, the feeling is mutual,” Magnus shot back, crossing his arms defensively.
“This is going to be the last time you are winning another contract, Bane,” Lightwood said in a warning tone.
“You’ve been saying that for some time now. I am getting bored,” Magnus shrugged.
“We’ll see about that,” Lightwood replied, imitating Magnus’ stance.
“I don’t even know why you are pissed at me. You wouldn’t be in this position if your company wasn’t so fucking homophobic.”
He hadn’t mentioned that at the meeting, even Magnus wouldn’t stoop that low. But everyone knew that the Lightwoods hailed from one of the most prestigious and conservative backgrounds. They would never hire an LGBT person or let alone give back to the community despite all their wealth.
“How dare you? We are not homophobic!” the other man said defensively, although it sounded like he was trying to convince himself more.
“Sure, Lightwood. Keep telling yourself that. This project might mean something to the community, you know? We might actually be able to hire LGBT members from the Downworlder and offer them decent pay,” Magnus said as he opened the car door and got behind the wheel. He needed to pick up Raphael from wherever he was and had to get the fuck out of here.
“Keep your heterosexual hands away from the Blackthorn contract,” he warned the other man.
“I am not-” Lightwood uncharacteristically stammered.
Magnus gave him a look that suggested ‘what bullshit are you going to spew now?’ The other man realized he had no comeback and settled for his typical goodbye to Magnus.
“No thanks. I’ll pass.”
As he sped out of the parking lot and picked up Raphael from the entrance, he realized that there was indeed one thing he hated more than the whole of Angel Square.