/ It was Alec Lightwood’s first day as a doctor without someone watching over his shoulder, instructing and criticizing. He was so terrified of screwing up that he felt sick to his stomach. People trusted themselves to his hands, and while he was the top of his class he felt like he had no idea what he was doing. The responsibility was a huge strain on his chronically tense shoulders.
He was still scared, even though by two in the afternoon that day had been anticlimactic. A couple of cases of flu... A screaming and crying child with a toy-soldier in his nose, who punched Alec while he tried to assess the situation... A seventy-year-old suffering from acute confusion who was convinced that she was pregnant and feared that her husband would leave her if he found out about her infidelity...
When Catarina, one of the nurses, briefed him on one Magnus Bane he actually dreaded what awaited. Especially with how worried she seemed. “Something went wrong during a dance practice and he hit his head pretty badly. According to Dot, his dancing partner, he was unconscious for about fifteen minutes while they waited for an ambulance.”
Alec’s brows furrowed as his mind went through all possible results of a head trauma. “Confusion? Nausea?”
Catarina shuddered. “While I was putting away the cardboard-bowl he vomited into he found it amusing that there were three of me ‘fluttering around’. So, yeah.” Deep worry made her tone sharper than it usually was.
If those symptoms weren’t alarming, Alec would’ve appreciated the comedic elements. He made a list of all the scans and other tests he wanted done. When he was finished Catarina breathed in deep. “I’ll make sure that these are taken care of. But Magnus is a friend of mine, so if it’s okay, another nurse will take over after that.”
Alec nodded in understanding. “Of course.” His eyes softened in a manner someone might’ve labeled uncharacteristic. “I’ll do my best to take a good care of him.”
Catarina smiled the best as she could. “I know. I wouldn’t trust one of the most important people in my life to just anyone.”
Alec was simultaneously flattered and scared. After letting Catarina go he headed to the mysterious dancer. What came next was like out of those romantic movies his sister’s boyfriend loved.
Alec walked through a door, too focused on his tablet to notice a wet spot on the floor. He did a ridiculous little dance before falling down gracelessly. He groaned from embarrassment and pain when his behind suffered the brunt of his clumsiness.
Almost instantly there was a ring-decorated hand held out for him. For some reason his attention locked on the burgundy nail polish. “I’m so sorry, that was my fault! They had to clean up because of me.” Every cell in Alec’s body reacted to that voice. “Are you alright?”
Alec nodded slowly, not remembering to take the hand. “I’m fine.” Although losing consciousness or sinking through the floor might’ve spared him from the humiliation of stumbling in front of his patient. He lifted his gaze and his breath caught.
Because the man looking down at him was the most beautiful human being he’d ever seen.
If the appreciative stare he earned in return was any indication, the other thought something similar of him. “My goodness, you’re pretty.” With those words Magnus fainted. /
Alec Lightwood-Bane had heard from a lot of people that over time magic disappears from every relationship. That while love remains, it becomes mundane, like a calm sea. He wasn’t sure he agreed. After exactly ten years together his skin still tingled pleasantly even after just a simple message from Magnus. This time his heart also soared and ached simultaneously. Because a picture of two sleeping boys had been added to the words.
‘It took two hours. But I finally got them to calm down. And I’m ready for our anniversary dinner.’
Alec frowned. Then typed back. ‘What happened?’
Magnus was likely leaving their apartment, because it took some time before he answered. ‘Max is upset because his classroom’s pet-hamster Turbo died. Rafe is upset because he didn’t win that stupid science fair.’
Alec’s stomach dropped and knotted. He’d forgotten that stupid hamster’s name although Max talked about it all the time. He’d also forgotten that the science fair was today although Rafael had been preparing something for it for months. How many others things had he forgotten? He often had to leave for work before the boys were awake and entirely too often they were sleeping when he returned home. It’d been especially bad lately with the flue-season forcing him to do a double-shift after a double-shift.
He was missing out, and he’d sworn to himself that he’d never miss out.
‘And now you are upset. I’m calling you.’ Almost immediately after the message Alec’s phone was ringing. Magnus’ voice still had the same impact on him it did the day they met. Which was why the doctor sputtered out before it could distract him. “I’m a horrible dad.”
“What?” A car door was slammed closed on Magnus’ end. “We’ve talked about this. You have to stop reading those books about parenting.”
“This isn’t about the books.” Under different circumstances Alec might’ve been embarrassed by how high-pitched he’d become. He didn’t like the bitter taste rising to his mouth. “Sometimes... Sometimes I feel like I spend more time with my patients than our boys.”
“You’re amazing, incredibly skilled and busy with saving lives. I spend too much time at the dance studio and the club. We love what we do about a tenth of how much we love our kids, and that’s a lot. We’d be miserable without our jobs.” Magnus sighed heavily. “Maybe Max and Rafe would deserve better but they don’t want better. They want us, in all our chaotic, insane, imperfect glory.”
Alec actually started to feel a little better. He hummed. “We’re lucky.”
“Damned right we are.” Magnus’ voice softened, like it always did when they talked about their kids. “And in case you’re worried about them resenting you... Remember that when you’re home, Max always comes to you first when he needs an adult. And Rafe wanted to win that fair so badly because he wants to be just like you when he grows up.”
Alec hadn’t known that, either. A smile appeared to his lips. “Really?”
“Really.” Magnus sounded more emotional than he probably meant to. “We’ve got great kids.”
“I’ve got a great husband, too.” Not for the first time Alec thanked whatever higher power was listening that he found Magnus.
“Best not tell him about me, then.” Magnus seemed to come to the conclusion that he was feeling better. “As much as I enjoy talking with you, I have a few things to do before a hot date. And I’d rather not be on the phone while driving.”
Alec’s smile widened. “I’ve got some paperwork to wrap up, too. I’ll see you at the restaurant.” After ten years he didn’t hesitate before continuing. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Magnus was about to hang up before adding something. “For the record... I have a great husband, too.”
Life brings along plenty of surprises. Some precious few of them, like Alec, were pleasant ones. Others, such as almost cracking his skull during a dance practice, were less welcome. That day Magnus faced what was certainly one of the worst surprises of his life. Everything seemed to progress in slow motion, although in actuality it was over in less than three minutes.
He continued driving when his light turned green. Only to find that another car was charging right at him. It hit before he could finish asking himself what the other driving was thinking.
The impact was rough, slammed breath from his lungs and made his ears ring. The car spun once, twice, before the whole world seemed to still. Magnus was just about to try breathing again when something occurred to him.
On a busy street two-car accidents rarely remain two-car accident.
His head and whole upper body jerked forward when a brutal force struck from behind. His forehead collided with the steering wheel almost hard enough to knock him out. Somehow he was conscious for the next hit.
Car number three, a heavy SUV, struck his side. The whole world exploded with pain, noise and movement. Magnus’ last thought before darkness swallowed him was relief that the boys and Alec weren’t there with him.
(Magnus wasn’t aware of collisions four and five.)
Alec was just about to leave the staff’s changing room when Catarina approached him. He grimaced. “Don’t you dare tell me that there’s some emergency...!” He frowned when her distraught facial expression registered. “Cat? What is it?”
Catarina sobbed. Just once, but it was enough to reveal how bad things were. “It’s Magnus. There’s...” She had to try again when her voice broke. “There’s been an accident.”
Everything was hazy after that. Somehow he ended up to the waiting room with Catarina. Neither was in the mood for talking, but her presence was a hint of comfort. Maybe he’d called someone, because one by one others started to appear.
Jace and Clary came first. Instead of offering words his brother sat beside him and placed a supportive hand on his shoulder. It helped ground Alec on what was definitely one of the worst days of his life. Simon also rushed in soon, eyes wide and suspiciously red. The musician’s frantic babbling was enough to wipe out some of the chaos in the doctor’s head. Then his mom was there. Her hug nearly made him break down to tears. He fought the sobs building up deep in his ribcage with a will of iron.
Stay strong and keep it together, he told himself firmly. (Desperately.) Over and over again. Keep it together, just like after Max... Thinking of his late brother was a mistake, because it made his chest tighten still. Stay strong...!
He didn’t want to hear what his mother had to say. “I... I should call the kids, let them know...” Oh, god, how was he supposed to...?
“Alec, no!” Jace shook his head. “Izzy said that they’re sleeping. If you wake them up and tell them in that state of mind you’ll just scare them.” His brother didn’t give him a chance to protest. “We’ll wait until we actually know something. Then we’ll call Izzy, together. And she’ll tell them, calmly and gently.” The blond went on after processing his own words. “Well, as calmly and gently as Izzy can manage.”
Alec’s broad shoulders slumped from something like defeat and he looked down. His hands, which were usually admirably steady, shook. “It’s... It’s our tenth anniversary”, he mused quietly and miserably. “I didn’t... I forgot to cancel the restaurant reservation.”
“It’s okay”, Maryse soothed softly. “Don’t worry about stupid things like that now.”
Alec shook his head almost frantically, irritation and thousand other things bubbling in his veins. “You don’t get it! That place, it’s... It’s Magnus' favorite. We made that reservation two moths ago...!” His breathing wheezed, and he buried his face to both unsteady hands when a few treacherous tears escaped. “I can’t... I can’t lose him! I can’t...!” He wasn't able to finish.
Jace pulled him closer. Everyone else seemed to inch closer, too, trying to offer silent support. But none of them was able to tell him with certainty that he wouldn’t lose Magnus. That everything would be okay.
It was hard to say how much more time passed by before steps entered the room. By then daylight was breaking outside. Andrew, a surgeon and a friend, seemed utterly exhausted and tense. “Hey”, the arrival greeted hoarsely. “Sorry it took me this long to come.”
Alec stood and straightened his tall frame. He barely noticed how several muscles complained. “How is he?”
Andrew took a deep breath. “Magnus suffered several injuries in the accident. Such as a broken sternum. One of his broken ribs came close to puncturing his lung. There was quite a bit of internal bleeding even without that, which was a big reason why I took my time.” The man’s jawline tightened. “We’re worried about the head trauma. A scan showed a hairline fracture to skull and we’re doing everything we can to make the swelling in his brain go down. At this point it’s impossible to predict what the long-term effects may be. Our best neurologist is examining him right now.”
A shocked silence filled the room. That... was a lot of unpleasant information to take in. Alec, however, had delivered enough horrible news to know that his friend was hiding something. By then he was so numb from shock that his voice came out clear and even. “What aren’t you telling me?”
Andrew tensed up. Then gulped and just spat it out. “Magnus’ lower body got trapped in the accident. And the damage done to his right leg... It was catastrophic. We had no other choice but to amputate it below the knee.”