Alec tried to control his temper as he looked at Lorenzo casually enjoying life in Magnus’ loft – the place where they had shared so many happy memories together. The younger Warlock had not wasted any time; he had completely redecorated the loft – his obnoxious tendency for self-portraits resulting in Alec finding it hard to look at anything without looking at a picture of him. Lorenzo was listening to Mozart while finishing a cocktail and looked like he didn’t have a care in the world – all the while the love of Alec’s life was in a hospital bed, fighting for his life. His hatred and anger returned and he fought to control himself, remembering what Catarina had told him; only Lorenzo could help Magnus and, unfortunately, he couldn’t force the man to comply. He had to be diplomatic. However, his patience was wearing thin, his lips pressed tightly together, and he had to dig his nails into the palm of his hands to control himself as Lorenzo continued to listen to the music, disinterested in him. Alec was certain the Warlock knew why he was here; and that he purposely let him wait as punishment for how Magnus and he had tricked him to gain access to his home. It probably hadn’t helped that they’d made threats towards him during the last few months when things had escalated. Alec had no doubt that the other Warlock hadn’t forgotten how Magnus had attacked him for his refusal to help heal Jace, thus landing them in this predicament in the first place.
Alec took a calming breath, the pain from digging his nails into his palms grounding him, calming him, the way it always did. “We need to talk,” he said, looking at the Warlock with a determined look. Magnus was counting on him; he couldn’t fail.
“Hang on, this is the best part,” Lorenzo said, trying hard not to smirk.
He knew why the Shadowhunter was here and he was going to enjoy every moment of this. He had allowed himself once to superficially trust the young Shadowhunter and had been reminded why trusting Shadowhunters was never a good idea. His mind darkened as he remembered another time, another place… a time when he had learned the hard way that Shadowhunters and Downworlders stayed separate for a reason. Where he had learned never to trust anyone – that the only one he could depend on was himself.
Alec almost let out a small sigh of frustration. The bastard knew very well why he was here, and he was dragging this out; clearly enjoying every moment. He went over to the gramophone player and turned it off before returning to stand at attention with his hands behind his back in front of the Warlock. Having been trained as a soldier since birth it was second nature for him to stand like this whenever he needed to speak to someone; he wasn’t even aware that he did it, even around Magnus.
Bold move, Lorenzo thought as the music ended prematurely. His eyed narrowed; this one was almost as arrogant as Magnus but then, like Magnus, this one too had grown up with a silver spoon in his month. After all, weren’t the Lightwoods almost royalty among Shadowhunters?
“What can I do for you, Mr. Lightwood?” He asked, with a false smile and a presumed air of nonchalant.
“Magnus has fallen ill as a result of the magic you gave him,” Alec said with a calm he didn’t feel, trying hard to keep the accusing tone out of his voice, Stay calm, he reminded himself. He again dug his nails into his own flesh, letting the pain help vaporize his anger.
“I did warn your boyfriend of the risks involved. He assured me he could handle it," Lorenzo said matter of fact, as he poured himself another drink.
Alec followed him with his eyes, annoyed at his pretend at normality. “Well, he can’t, and I would... Appreciate if you would take the magic back.” Alec forced the word appreciate out. All he wanted to do was attack and force compliance out of the Warlock, but he knew well that even attempting something like that wouldn’t give him the result he wanted.
Being a soldier, he was no stranger to forced humiliation; it had been a discipline tool used by some of his instructors, but it had always been the punishment which he had fought against most. The pain he could bear but having to say something which was contrary to his true beliefs… that had been harder. However, he didn’t want Lorenzo to know this, so he tried to keep his face neutral, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of seeing how affected by all this he really was.
“Yes, I am sure you would appreciate that, but he brought this upon himself. It is not my fault that the pompous old warlock has fallen by his own hubris.” Lorenzo walked back toward Alec, drink in hand. He didn’t try and hide his glee at the thought that he had finally won. He had finally beaten Magnus Bane – he was no longer a nobody, begging for scraps from the rich man’s table. He was someone now. Finally, after fighting, begging, pleading, deceiving, stealing and killing his way to the top he was finally here.
Alec was momentarily taken back by the pure venom in his voice. “Why? Why do you hate him so much?” Alec asked, genuinely perplexed. Magnus was the most amazing man he had ever met; he was kind-hearted, brave, self-sacrificing… He couldn’t imagine how anyone could possibly hate him.
Lorenzo considered how much he should tell the Shadowhunter; he owed him nothing – least of all the truth. But there was hidden vulnerability in the depths of the Shadowhunter’s eyes which made Lorenzo give just the smallest inch.
“It's simple. All my life I have had to sit by while the world lavished praise on Magnus Bane, the progeny, the High Warlock who could do no wrong,” Lorenzo almost spat the words out.
Alec’s eyes narrowed. What a petty spiteful man Lorenzo was. “Green doesn't become you, Lorenzo.”
Lorenzo’s eyes narrowed in renewed anger, his mind flashing back to his past – all his struggles, all his pain… all his loss.
“You have no idea how hard I have had to work for everything I have,” Lorenzo took pride in that; he had earned everything he had, him and him alone. He put down his drink on a nearby table, his growing anger making it hard to keep up a show of nonchalance.
"That man was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His celebrity is not based on talent; it's nepotism,” Lorenzo spat the words out. Magnus was Edom royalty; Lorenzo had no such luck. His father had been a common demon and his mother a servant girl at a palace. After she had been raped by the demon, she had become pregnant out of wedlock. She had been thrown out from her position, cast aside, humiliated and alone she had been scorned by all – even her own family. She had been begging on the streets, taking any job, any job at all, to ensure her child got carried to term. Her life had been harsh, short and miserable but Lorenzo remembered his mother fondly – the only person who had ever truly loved him till the very end.
“Well, you are right about one thing. Magnus is beloved and when word gets out that you wouldn't help him purely out of jealousy how do you think the other warlocks are going to feel?” Alec spat out, hatred in his voice. Damn, he should calm down, but he couldn’t. He wanted nothing more than to hit the warlock and it took all his strength not to.
Lorenzo looked at the young Shadowhunter coldly, his earlier flash of compassion for the man gone with the hateful words he had shot at him. “I guess we will find out, won't we?”
Alec saw red. How dare he! “Bastard. I swear I will...” Alec started hotly, thinking in his mind of all the horrible things he would enjoy doing to the Warlock.
“What?” Lorenzo hissed at him, his eyes flashing hatred back at him. Nephilim! He should have known better than to even keep up this ridiculous pretense of civility. Lorenzo magically blasted Alec backwardtoward the door.
“I believe we are done here. You can show yourself out,” he said coldly, turning around to pour himself another drink. Dark memories were at the edge of his mind. A woman screaming in pain as Shadowhunters laughed at her predicament, his own tears staining his face, the pain in his arms as they were twisted behind his back and he was forced to his knees, helpless to do anything else but watch the woman’s continued agony.
Alec managed to stay upright despite the force of the magical wind. He faced the door and took a deep breath, he couldn’t fail. Only Lorenzo could save Magnus. He had to try another approach. Logic hadn’t worked, threats hadn’t worked. There was only one option left. Alec grimaced inwardly – begging wasn’t his strongest suit but for Magnus, he would do anything. He swallowed his pride and turned to look at Lorenzo.
“You have never been in love, have you?” Alec asked softly, looking intensely at the older man. If everything else had failed maybe emotions would reach him. Emotions…before Magnus, Alec wouldn’t even have considered this approach. Feelings were weakness to a Shadowhunter. That had been beaten into him since birth. But Magnus had showed him that emotions, that love, could be a strength, an advantage. He had to give this a try; his pride was a very small price to pay if it meant Magnus would be saved.
Lorenzo looked surprised at the Shadowhunter. What an odd thing to say for a Shadowhunter. It was well-known among Downworlders that their species didn’t have feelings – or if they ever did; it was systematically forced out of them from an early age, which amounted to the same thing.
“I am over 300 years old; of course I have been in love. More times than I care to admit,” Lorenzo said caustically but in truth, he had only ever felt love once – the love of a mother’s embrace. Yes, of course he had had lovers – men and women, both Mundane and Downworlders, as was common for warlocks, eternity can get quite boring if you don’t try everything at least once. But love, true love- no, he had never felt that. Warlocks were a possessive and protective race when it came to the people they loved; having been unable to help his mother when it mattered most, he had stopped himself from feeling anything like that again. He wouldn’t allow himself to be that vulnerable ever again.
Alec moved closer to Lorenzo, encouraged by his answer. “Well, for me it is only one; Magnus,” Alec took a deep breath. He didn’t want to show weakness especially in front of this man, an enemy in all regards, but he had to do this. He had to show how he truly felt. He allowed his barriers to come crashing down and his eyes swelled up with tears when he thought of his lover lying still in a hospital bed, fighting for his life.
“He is my world and if he dies...” Alec stopped, unable to finish the thought. If Magnus died, he died. He knew that as fact. He wouldn’t want to live, there would be no reason to go on. He took a calming breath, he was now so close to Lorenzo he could have touched him.
“Look, Lorenzo, he's no threat to you, okay? He doesn't have his powers." He felt a tear roll down his cheek and saw the surprise at this show of vulnerability in Lorenzo’s eyes before the warlock could hide behind his carefully crafted casual and arrogant facade.
"Just please, please help him,” Alec begged, beyond caring that he was begging, beyond caring that he was crying in front of a man he hated so much he wished him dead a million times over.
Lorenzo quickly hid his surprise at this display. Shadowhunters always knew how to get at you, use you. He closed his eyes as he recalled how he had suffered; all because he had trusted a Shadowhunter. He had been a boy. Barely five years old. He hadn’t had control of his powers. They had lived in a small hut near a village in Spain, he tried to help her make ends meet by begging for money from the rich outside the churches on Sundays or on street corners. Their life had been hard and dirty, filled with hunger and their lives and bodies at anyone’s mercy. His mum often returned bruised and beaten and he himself often had to escape someone lashing out at him to force him away from their nice upscale neighborhood, which they felt his begging ruined for them. But he had had his mum and as he had grown older he had realized he had powers; he couldn’t control them yet but at times he had been able to use them to steal food for them both; it was a risky thing to do – he had once been caught stealing and was lucky he had gotten away with just a severe beating. But there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his mum for he knew well the sacrifices she had made to bring him life. She had held him in her arms, sung to him at night. When they were short on food, which was almost all the time, she had given him everything. She had loved him with an intensity born out of desperation. Out of all the misery her demonic rape had brought her she had seen her son as the only light in her world. But all that had ended when Lorenzo had met a young warrior in the town square – in some ways Alec’s military walk, the way his whole being at times seemed to radiate soldier, the way he stood at attention…those aspects of him reminded him of that Shadowhunter. He had seemed kind, he had talked with him and fed him, given him gifts. The man had met with him over several weeks until Lorenzo had started to trust him. Finally, he had answered the question he had asked repeatedly; where did he live with his mum.
He had told him because he had come to trust him. That had been the last time he had ever been foolish enough to trust a Shadowhunter as he would later learn the soldier had been but at that time he hadn’t known what the Shadow World was; he thought only he had been born in this most terrible way – a product of a demonic rape. The man and his friends had come crashing into he and his mother’s small hut that night, torn them from their beds. They had dragged them away to a nearby castle, grinning at their victory, spitting insults at him and his mum, most of which he didn’t understand – something about his mum associating with devil spawn and him being demonic. His mum had told him of his birth but had always assumed him that he himself wasn’t demonic; she had firmly believed that. He would later learn that the Shadowhunters had heard tales of how he had used his powers in the village and had known he had been a Warlock and had mistakenly thought his mum and he were associated with a renegade Warlock operating in the area. That Warlock had apparently killed several Shadowhunters and their recent loss combined with their institutionalized hatred for Downworlders had had catastrophic consequences for Lorenzo.
It almost seemed that the more his mother expressed her love for her son, the more she insisted her son was good, not demonic. The more she insisted she knew nothing of demons, the Shadow World and Downworlders…the angrier they became.
He had been too young at that time to understand many of the things that had been happening, like why the men were hurting them. But he had known enough to know it was bad. When they had forced him to watch as they had whipped her repeatedly, over several agonizing hours, leaving her hovering at the brink of death, he had understood there was a Hell and he was living it. They had kept probing and pushing, asking him to ‘show what he could do’. He hadn’t understood back then that they knew he was a Warlock and wanted to know about his powers. He hadn’t really thought where his powers had come from but he couldn’t control it and now, when he had wanted to save his mum, to use those powers against their tormentors nothing happened. He had only cried and begged and pleaded but to no avail. When the Shadowhunters had finally burned his mother alive as was their custom with prisoners it had been a kindness to her as she had finally been able to escape the agony of her own body. It had been the end of Lorenzo’s life has he had known it. In that moment, as her skin turned black and charred, his powers had finally kicked in. The Shadowhunters had become relaxed around him after weeks of nothing happening and that was the only reason he had managed to escape. He would later, as a grown man, hunt down every one of the shadowhunters who had been involved in his mother’s death and ensured they had met with the most gruesome fate imaginable – for good measure he had killed their whole linage as well. They had killed the only family he had and would ever get, he wanted to take theirs too.
Lorenzo’s mind returned to the present by a soft sniff from the young Shadowhunter, tears making his eyes seem huge and his cheeks wet. “Why should I help him?” Lorenzo asked coldly, his eyes flashing a deep-rooted hatred as his memories of the past had returned to him. How dare this Shadowhunter even ask for his help? Him and Magnus were the same as all those rich people who had spat at him, ignored him, abused and used his mother. He owned them nothing!
Alec tried one last desperate time, beyond caring that his voice sounded precisely as desperate as he felt. He couldn’t fail; he had to convince him. “Please. He is no threat to you.”
Lorenzo considered his words. No, Magnus really wasn’t a threat any longer but Magnus had humiliated him with his attack, weakened his power position and if he had learned one thing from observing those above him through hundreds of years, it was that one could never afford to show weakness. Forgiveness was weakness. However, an idea struck him; revenge certainly wasn’t.
“And let’s say I do help your boyfriend,” he almost spat that last word out. Even someone like Magnus should have known better than be with a Shadowhunter. He saw the hope shine in the young man’s eyes and almost, but only almost, felt a hint of sympathy. “What will I get?”
Alec was momentarily confused, his tears slowing to a halt as he felt he was finally getting somewhere. They were no longer debating whether the Warlock would help Magnus – they were now debating the details of how. He felt his heart flutter with hope. “Get?”
“Well,” Lorenzo began with a small but hard smile. This was going to be fun. “A Warlock doesn’t offer services for free.”
Alec sank. He didn’t have much in the way of possessions; he had always lived at the Institute. There was nothing he wouldn’t offer if it meant Magnus’ life but he feared he might but have whatever it might be that Lorenzo wanted. “What do you want?” Alec asked flatly, looking the Warlock straight in the eyes.
Direct and to the point; Lorenzo liked that. “You,” he said with a triumphant smile.
Alec had to gasp for breath and a brief flash of panic crossed his face. Surely, he didn’t mean… he flashed back to when he had asked Magnus for help with Isabelle’s trial and he had asked for that very same price – him. He tried the same tactic this time as he had done back then. “Isn’t there something else you want?”
Lorenzo laughed, knowing full well what the young Shadowhunter were fearing. Rape was an efficient tool in war, but he had always found it distasteful, maybe because he knew what his mother had had to suffer. It was never something he would consider as punishment or revenge. “Oh, you silly boy! I don’t want you,” Shadowhunters might be cruel and unfeeling but he wasn’t.
Alec looked confused. “Then what?”
Lorenzo interrupted him. “Magnus owes me my revenge. I was going to send him to the spiral labyrinth for his betrayal but since he no longer has his magic that won’t do. So my price is simple….you take his place.”
Alec looked at him, puzzled and afraid of what precisely he was asking. “In the spiral labyrinth?”
“No, of course not. You take his punishment,” Lorenzo explained. Alec almost looked relieved. Lorenzo had to admit that Shadowhunters had one thing going for them; they sure understood punishment. They were after all the people who had invented the Agony rune – a rune made just to create mental or physical pain… or both.
Alec didn’t have to think twice. “I accept.” Lorenzo almost laughed at how quickly and eagerly Alec had accepted the offer, almost like a starving man seeing water in the desert. Despite his hatred for Shadowhunters he had to admire this one. It almost seemed like he actually cared for a Downworlder… That couldn’t be true of course. It was obviously some kind of trick but what the trick was, Lorenzo had yet to figure out.
Lorenzo reached out and put a hand under Alec’s chin, hard enough to let the other man know he shouldn’t try and move. Alec looked him straight in the eyes and didn’t. There was a flash of fear in his eyes, but it was quickly subdued behind a carefully crafted military mask.
“You don’t know what the punishment is yet,” he reminded him. Lorenzo had wondered what he would ask but at the end the answer had come easily to his mind and he doubted Alec would have agreed so readily if he knew what Lorenzo had planned for him.
Alec would have shaken his head if he could. Instead he simply took a calming breath and answered honestly. “I don’t care. As long as you go to Magnus afterwards.”
Lorenzo pulled his hand away from his face, almost as if burned. There was something about Alec’s tone… a softness, a willingness to sacrifice. It couldn’t be true. Magnus couldn’t possibly deserve that and no Shadowhunter could ever be capable of showing such feelings. Annoyed by his weakness in his moment of triumph, Lorenzo turned his back on the other man for a moment to pull himself together. This was his victory, his moment. He would not be tricked again; he would not be denied this. When he turned back to face Alec his own mask was as much in place as Alec’s.
“Take off your shirt,” Lorenzo said more harshly than he had intended. He wouldn’t let his emotions get the better of him – it was his right to ask for any price for services rendered and it was his right to take revenge – revenge for the humiliation Magnus had put him through, for his defiance and revenge for his mother’s torment all those years ago.
Alec blinked, fighting back a wave of panic. He had never liked being exposed in such a fashion. Growing up he had learned that long-sleeved black pants and shirts were your friend – nothing hid bruises and scars quite as well. He fought down the feeling of humiliation. He could do this for Magnus. He fought to go to that place of emptiness in his mind where he had always gone whenever he had been punished in the past. He remembered one particularly painful session with his dad; Robert had used the agony rune for both mental and physical pain only to then use the healing rune – only stopping after the fourth round. The last beating had ended with his dad forcing a promise from Alec that he would let those injuries heal the Mundane way, Robert’s way of teaching him a lesson that if he wasn’t obedient he could be de-runed and would always have to heal the Mundane way. Robert had a horrible temper when provoked and more times than not, when Jace and his sister had convinced him to break the rules and they had been caught Alec had taken responsibility for it; many a time without either of his siblings ever knowing they had been found out. Robert had expressed a measure of pride that Alec had done what a leader should; take responsibility for the actions of those under his command. Though Alec had a feeling Robert had also been happy it had been him he had had to punish as Jace had quickly become the son they had always wished for – the perfect soldier in every aspect - and his daughter had always been his favorite. For a Shadowhunter father Robert had been remarkably gentle with her – no such luck for Alec. Robert would later, when Alec was grown, explain to him that he had done such things to make him a better soldier, a better Shadowhunter, a better man. That he had to show him how hard the world could be so he would be able to face it, survive it. He had used to believe this but after he had met Magnus and felt how gentle love could be, after he had met Simon and Clary and they had explained about their Mundane childhoods and what was considered “normal” punishments in the Mundane world… he was no longer so sure. However, in this very moment he was glad for those painful lessons from his parents and instructors because it would make whatever Lorenzo had in mind so much easier to bear.
Without another word Alec took off his shirt and let it pool by his feet, his eyes meeting Lorenzo’s in a determined stare, refusing to let the fear show on his face. Whatever was coming he would bear it…for Magnus. For him he would and could bear anything.
Chapter 2 coming soon