Chapter 1: Talk about Awkward
Max stepped through his portal into the Institute’s command hub. He knew his dad told him not to use portals until he could talk him through it, but they weren’t that hard to figure out. Plus, it saved him from being late to training. He looked down at his watch. A few minutes to spare.
Your magic is still young. It can be unpredictable , Magnus said.
Max begged him, and made some compelling arguments, but he wouldn’t budge.
Did Papa put you up to this? Max asked. Alec was always the strict parent. Magnus usually let his son get away with things behind his back as long as it was “harmless.” Magnus rolled his eyes at his son before walking into his workroom.
When Max lifted his head from his watch, he wished he’d listened to his father. Across the room, there were four shadowhunters approaching him with weapons drawn. Everyone who was working at monitors stepped away in defensive positions. Every eye in the room was on him.
“Oh, fuck me,” he whispered under his breath. He put his hands up in front of himself.
“Who are you and how did you get a portal through the wards?” Alec demanded. He had an arrow nocked and was pulling the bowstring back against his jaw.
Max’s eyes went wide. He looked at the three shadowhunters around his father: Isabelle, Clary, and Jace--his aunts and uncle. They were younger than he had ever seen them. It was like they had stepped out of one of his dad’s photo albums.
“He asked you a question,” Isabelle said when they stopped a few feet from him. “I suggest you answer. He isn’t very patient.”
“No shit,” Max said reflexively. He winced at his words once they left his mouth. He could feel his hands start shaking. What they hell is going on? Jace quirked an eyebrow at him. “Can we all just chill out for a sec?” Max tried to think quickly. What would make them calm down? What can I say? What shouldn’t I say? Is this actually happening?
“I have angel blood,” he blurted out.
“That doesn’t answer who you are,” Alec said in a monotone.
“If anything that raises more questions. You look like a warlock," Clary said motioning to him. This wasn’t the first time Max cursed his blue-tinted skin.
“Could we settle this in your office or something? With less weapons pointed at me? This is getting kinda personal and I’m sure these people,” Max said with a hand wave to the shadowhunters observing the exchange, “would like to get back to work.”
Alec looked to his sister before lowering his bow and motioning to the conference room down the hall. Max stepped forward towards him and was immediately flanked by his aunts. He rolled his eyes and walked cautiously past Alec.
Once in the conference room, Max sat in a chair near one of the monitors. He looked at it searching. There it was in the bottom of the screen: 2016. He didn’t get a long enough look to see the exact date.
“So?” Alec said with his arms crossed. Jace was still holding his blade. Max shook his head and let out a laugh.
“Well, Dad invented the portal. Guess it only makes sense that I stumbled into fucking time travel!” Max motioned wildly at them with his hands.
“Wait, your father is Magnus Bane?” Alec asked, words heavy. Max hung his head in his hands and took a deep breath.
“Yeah, Magnus is one of my fathers. Can we focused on the important things right now? I am stuck in 2016!” Everyone looked to Alec when he mentioned having multiple fathers. “Fuck, I am such shit at this,” Max muttered to himself. He jumped when his watched buzzed
“Mensaje del Papa,” it said in a smooth voice to the room. Max looked at it and held his wrist out to tap on the screen a few times before he froze. Clary opened her mouth to speak, but stopped when he shot up out of his seat, unfastening his watch, and stepping up to the monitor. Alec stepped in front of him, hand on his blade. His stance would have towered him over anyone else, but Max was nearly the same height as him.
“You’re avoiding questions. We still don’t know who you are or what any of this is. Let alone if you’re being truthful. Why would I let you access our database?” Alec said with his brow furrowed.
“You heard it, right?” Max held up his watch. “I got a message from...someone from my time meaning it’s somehow still connected. If I hook it up to that monitor, I can call my dad and get all this sorted,” Max explained, fidgeting. Alec sighed before turning and tapping on the screen until it was disconnected from the Institute’s network. He stepped aside and motioned for Max to get to work. He smiled wide and snapped his fingers, summoning green flames between his fingers.
They all watched as his magic sparked and sputtered against the screen and Max talked to himself.
“How far in the future do you think he’s from?” Isabelle asked under her breath. “If he’s actually telling the truth.”
“Well, his clothes don’t look too far off from ours. So, under fifty years?” Clary replied.
They took in Max’s appearance: tan sandals with straps going in every direction; capri-length black linen pants; a long-sleeve white sweater with a dip hem showing off his toned, blue stomach; the sleeves were pulled halfway down his hands; he had one silver snake ring twisted around his pinky; a few silver chains around his neck disappeared into the wide neck of the sweater; from his right ear dangled a light purple gem on a simple copper chain; and his dark hair was gathered at the top of his head in a haphazard bun.
“So, in less than fifty years, Magnus gets a kid somehow with another guy?” Jace asks with his eyebrows lifted and a smirk.
“Think I got it!” Max yelled as he hit a button with the enthusiasm of a child. The team stepped up behind him, still wary, The screen went black with “Dad” in small font in the corner.
“Come on, pick up,” Max chanted to himself quietly. Suddenly the imaged snapped and Magnus was there.
“Oh,” Isabelle let out.
He still looked like Magnus with his jewelry and sultry makeup, but she wasn’t expecting his hair to be so long. It was down just past his shoulders. The tips were swirls of cotton candy: a mix of light pinks, blues, and purples. He didn’t look any older.
“Blueberry, your father was just looking for you. Aren’t you supposed to be training?” Magnus spoke as he examined a blue concation in his hand before add a sprig of something.
“Well, I’m at the Institute, but…” Max trailed off. Magnus looked up and his eyes unglamored eyes
went wide. He took in the sight before him before his snapped his glamor back into place.
“What did you do?” Magnus asked breathless. He set the container down hard.
“Why do you automatically assume it was something I did?” Magnus flicked an eyebrow skyward. Alec couldn’t help but smile at his expression. He looked like such a dad . “Okay, so, I was running late, so I decided to just portal here instead of walking and I somehow managed to travel to 2016,” Max finished lamely. He hung his head to the side.
“Well, there’s no point in scolding you yet. I’ll let your father handle that,”” Magnus started.
“No! You can’t tell Papa!” Max practically pleaded. Magnus ignored him and looked at Alec.
“So, what’s happened so far?”
“Your son, who still has yet to tell us his name, stepped out of a portal in the middle of the Institute, realized he somehow travelled back in time, and called you,” Jace replied.
“Oh, I’m Max, sorry,” he interjected.
“Alright. Now, what’s been going on with you lot? I need to figure out where you are event wise,” Magnus said.
“Izzy’s freedom was just bought for the Mortal Cup,” Alec said, his face falling when he remembered how hurt Magnus had looked. Magnus noticed his strained posture.
“Out of all the times you could have dropped yourself in,” Magnus whined. He moved to sit on a couch. The video followed him. He sat and ran a hand through his hair. “You managed to not only arrive just in time from Alexander and Lydia’s wedding, but also at the start of the Mortal War when Valentine is still hunting warlocks and searching for interesting blood!”
Max slowly lowered himself back into a chair. He held his elbows and curled into himself.
“Am I g-going to affect my future? Your future? Or will all of this branch off into a separate reality or will everything be--” Max rambled until Clary put her hands on his shoulder. He reached up to intertwine their fingers. He knew Clary didn’t know him yet, but he needed someone to hold onto right now.
What if I cause Dad and Papa to never get together? What if Papa marries? What if Valentine…
“Since none of the present individuals have burst in her freaking out about new memories about you and changes in history, I’m guessing this is creating a separate timeline, but that doesn’t mean you should over share or intervene. At least until we’re sure,” Magnus said in a soothing voice. They could all hear the care he had for his son.
“And how are we supposed to figure all this out? In case you forgot, we have other, more pressing issues than some misplaced teenager,” Jace chided. Max let out a shaky laugh.
“ Some misplaced teen ,” Max echoed to himself. “I’m not just some issue to be prioritized; I’m your ne--”
“Careful,” Magnus said in a sing-song voice. He stood from his couch and went back to working on his concoction.
“Do you have any suggestions for this...situation?” Alec asked Magnus.
“I’ll go research and ask around. I suggest you call me. Use Clary’s phone. And you best come up with a plausible excuse to tell your father. Goodbye, darlings.”
The screen went black. Isabelle handed Max his watch. Clary pulled out her phone and stepped out of the room as her put it to her ear.
“So, what year are you from?” Jace asked after he sat down at the table and kicked his feet up onto it.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to say. Depending on what happens, that could confuse some people,” Max said with a glance to Alec.
“Is there anything you can tell us?” Isabelle implored as she took a seat as well. Alec crossed his arms across his chest and leaned against the wall.
“Well, I know all of you,” Max offered.
“So, we live through the all this. Good to know,” Jace said. Max smiled.
“Why is your name Max?” Alec asked. The other three looked at him. “You say you know us and you’re Magnus’ son. I’m assuming you know our little brother, so why would Magnus chose the same name?”
“Uh,” Max swallowed hard. “I guess all I can is that he didn’t name me. Sure, he okayed it, but Papa’s side of the family named me. Magnus named my brother. Speaking of which…”
Max trailed off as he tapped at his watch. A light came out of the side and a transparent, blue keyboard appeared on the table. He focused his attention on it.
The trio watched him curiously. He could feel their stares, but tried to ignore them.
Clary came back in the room, sliding her phone into her pocket.
“Magnus is waiting for us at his lair,” she said to the group.
“What did you tell him?” Alec asked.
“Just that we had a non-Valentine related emergency. I figured this would be easier to explain in person,” she explained, motioning to Max.
“Great. Now I just have to figure out how to tell a perpetual bachelor terrified of his own feelings that he has a family in the future. He’s going to think I’m insane,” Max muttered to himself as he stood.
“I don’t see why we’re all dropping everything to help him. We’re at war,” Alec said to the room.
“Our top priority should be waking up your mother,” he motioned to Clary, “not helping a warlock find his way home.”
“I think you’re forgetting I’m from the future,” Max said flatly. Alec just stared at him.He rolled his eyes and continued. “I know everything that is going to happen. You think you all haven’t been telling me the stories from these days since I was little? I know how to wake up Jocelyn. I know where Valentine is. I know what his plans are. Hell, I even know the truth behind this “oh no! I’m in love with my sister!” nonsense,” Max smirked as he made his way around the table to Alec. “So, I should really be your numero uno priority, no?”
Everyone had varied looks of surprise on their faces. He was definitely Magnus’ child, they all thought.
They stayed mostly silent on their way to Brooklyn. The group could feel the tension rolling off of Max. All of the confidence he’d shown at the Institute was gone. He fidgeted with his hands. When they reached Magnus’ building, they paused.
“You ready for this?” Clary asked him. He let out a long sigh and shook out his hands like he was trying to rid himself of nervous energy.
“I don’t think that really matters, but thanks.” Isabelle rung the buzzer.
“WHO DARES DISTURB THE HIGH WARLOCK OF BROOKLYN?” Max breathed out a small laugh.
“Come on, Magnus, you’re expecting us, remember?” Clary said into the box with a smirk.
Alec grabbed the door when it unlocked and usher everyone inside and up the stairs. Max followed the group up the five floors. When they reached the door, they didn’t bother knocking. Everyone just followed Alec in the apartment. Max recognized some of the items around the main room: books, a few sculptures, and the phonograph tucked away in the corner. Magnus stood fluidly from one of the couches.
“So, what is it you need this time?” he asked. “And who is this?”
The group parted to let Magnus see Max. Suddenly. Max felt like he couldn’t breath. He swallowed hard and wrung his hands together. He opened his mouth to talk, but couldn’t think of any words. He felt himself start shaking.
Alec stepped back in front of him slightly in a protective stance.
“This is Max,” he said simply. “He’s why we’re here.”
“Apparently he managed to travel back in time,” Clary said, stepping next to Max and putting a gentle hand on his arm. Magnus leaned back against the couch.
“You poor child,” Magnus said softly. “You have no need to fear anything here--unless you intend to harm anyone present. I am the High Warlock of the area.”
“I-I know,” Max stuttered.He kept his eyes on the throw rug Magnus was standing on.
“Care to explain exactly how you managed to get to this time?” Magnus prodded gently. Max’s clear anxiety pulled at his heart. Magnus thought back to when he was so young.
“I t-tried,” Max started. He paused to take a shaky breath. “I tried to portal and when I stepped through, it was suddenly 2016.”
“And what year are you from?” Magnus asked. He motioned towards his couch, offering them seats. This didn’t seem like a quick conversation.
Jace and Alec stayed standing while Clary guided Max to the couch, Isabelle sitting down on the other side of him. Magnus settled in an armchair and watched Max expectedly.
“Since this area is new for me, the more I know, the better I can approach it,” Magnus offered, trying to get Max to elaborate.
“Uh, I was in 2034,” he breathed out. He stared at his knee.
Magnus took in Max’s hunched shoulders and downward stare. Someone so tall, even though young shouldn’t be able to make himself seem so small. He thought of Alexander.
Max jerked his head up when he heard the familiar sound of Magnus snapping his fingers. There were now steaming cups of tea and a kettle on the coffee table. Max leaned forward and grabbed one. Raising it to his lips, he breathed it in. Camomile. Max sighed into the scent as he took a sip, Everyone watched him curiously. Isabelle, Magnus, and Clary all took cups for themselves.
“You’re awfully trusting of me for looking so uncomfortable in my home and not knowing who I am,” Magnus commented.
“I know you really well,” Max whispered into his cup. “That’s kinda the problem.”
“Do you now? Is that why you all brought him here instead of speaking with Isabelle’s Seelie Knight? They would be much more likely to know about time travel.”
The shadowhunters all looked at Max expectantly. He appreciated that they weren’t just going to blurt Magnus’ future out at him, but he also didn’t want to have to be the one to explain things. He knew his dad loved him so much and he would never reject him, but the warlock in front of him wasn’t his father yet. What if he rejects me?
“Well, you actually told us to come here. I can still contact my you,” Max said, raising his hand to show his watch.
“So you all saw 2034 me?” Magnus asked the group. “Well, that explains why you believe this farfetched story.”
“You don’t believe me,” Max stated. It didn’t surprise him, but his chest still hurt a little at his words.
“You must understand how ridiculous this all seems. I’ve never encountered anything even mentioning the possibility of time travel and I’ve been around since the Dead Sea--”
“Was just a lake feeling a little poorly,” Max finished his sentence with a smirk. Magnus raised an eyebrow at him. “We both know that’s not true.”
“And how would you know? A warlock never reveals his age. It’s bad for business.”
“I know pretty much everything there is to know about you,” Max said as he set his cup down on the table.
“Pardon my reservations, but I find it hard that I’d become that close with someone in such a short amount of time. No one knows everything about me,” Magnus said defensively, curling his cup against his chest.
“What would convince you?” Max asked leaning forward. Might as well just get it over with . Clary rubbed lightly at his shoulder. Alec decided to take the chair next to Magnus since this conversation didn’t seem like it was going to end anytime soon. Jace recrossed his arms and leaned against the pillar behind the couch.
“According to you, you know me well enough to figure that out all by yourself,” Magnus chided.
Right, Dad was still in his bitch-phase, especially since Papa is getting married to Lydia. Max laughed to himself. Now I see where I get it.
“I’ll try not to let all of them know more than you want them to, but you brought this upon yourself,” Max said with a smile and stood to place around the room. His movements were both languid and sharp at the same time. He placed a pensive hand on his chin as he walked. A quick smirk was on his lips.
“You were banned from Peru for ‘crimes unspeakable’ and you still aren’t sure which ones they’re referring to,” Max said quickly as he continued to pace. One of his hands pulled on one of the necklaces hiding under his sweater.
“It’s not like that’s private knowledge,” Magnus said before taking a sip of his tea. Alec grabbed a cup for himself. Isabelle and Clary turned to watch Max walk the length of the room.
“Crimes unspeakable?” Isabelle asked with a smile. Magnus waved her off, keeping his attention on Max.
“When you decided to give up music, the city you were in held a festival to celebrate,” Max laughed out, hand fixed on the silver chain.
Alec gave Magnus a bewildered look.
“Unfortunately, true. But that was a large festival. There are probably records of it somewhere.”
Max’s fingers slid down the chain, lifting the necklace out from his sweater. He grabbed what was hanging on the end and slid it along the chain, from side to side. It screamed nervous habit. When Max walked back to their side of the room, everyone’s brows furrowed at what was actually attached to the chain.
“Why do you have a stele ?” Jace demanded. Max blinked before looking down. He dropped the stele which tapped off of his sternum.
“Okay, don’t be pissed for me bringing him up. It’s not like I want to,” Max started ignoring Jace. Magnus’ eyes narrowed. “You have your father’s eyes.”
They heard Magnus fumble to set his cup back down on the table. Alec watched as Magnus clenched and unclenched his jaw. Max stopped behind the couch and looked down before continuing. He swallowed hard.
“My grandfather’s eyes.”
Magnus’ head shot up to look at the boy, who in turn, lifted his head slowly and blinked. Striking cat eyes looked at Magnus’ glamoured ones which were wide and fearful. Max lowered his eyes almost immediately before turning around to pace the room again.
Isabelle pulled her mouth into a line and shared a look with Clary which spoke what all the shadowhunters were thinking: awkward . Magnus shot up out of his chair and also started pacing, in small struts.
“H-how do I know this isn’t just one of his games?” Magnus asked.
Alec pulled his brows together. He’d never heard any mention of Magnus’ father. Most warlocks didn’t know their exact demonic parent, let alone have any sort of contact with them. He’d also never heard Magnus sound so broken. Alec had never heard him stutter, falter. Magnus was always the embodiment of confidence, but here he was pacing and hands shaking.
Max bit his lip hard and looked up to the ceiling. His eyes were still un-glamored. He squeezed them shut as his tear ducts started burning. Not only had his dad disregarded the meaning behind his words--their connection--he had actually accused him of being in league with Asmodeus. Max put his hands on his hips and took in a shaky breath.
“Magnus, Max is going through a lot. I can’t even imagine dealing with--” Clary started.
“He has a point,” Alec says. “In case you forgot, we’re at war. Demon numbers are rising. Valentine could have had something to do with this.”
“He’s just a kid,” Clary whispers to him.
“We can’t be too careful.” Isabelle said, crossing her arms and looking over at Max.
He had turned his back to them. She could see his back muscles pulled tight from his arms being crossed to hold onto his hips, like he was trying to hold himself together.
Their conversation fell away. It was like his whole self was falling into a dark mist. He couldn’t see the room around him. He didn’t hear their stabbing remarks, speaking as if he weren’t present--as if he wasn’t family . In the back of his mind he knew he should be listening to their words; he should be ready in case they decided he was a threat, but he couldn’t find his way out of the mist. Max bent his head forward and tried to steady his breathing. In, two three, Hold. Out, two, three. Just like Papa had taught him.
Chapter 2: Meet the Fam
The truth starts coming out about Max's family.
Max’s eyes shot open when he heard someone speak in front of him. Alec was looking at him, waiting.
“You alright?” Alec asked again in a low tone.
“Uh, y-yeah,” Max replied shakily, forcefully rubbing away the wetness under his eyes. “I’m just peachy.” Alec gave him a stern look. “You guys decide what to do with me yet or what?” Max crossed his arms tightly across his chest, head held high, defiant. Alec shook his head a little to himself and mirrored the position of his arms.
“Your watch or whatever went off while you were ‘just peachy.’ Cinco mensaje de Papa ,” Alec said, mimicking the voice of the device. “Have you still not made an excuse as to why you’re missing?”
“Way to deflect,” Max chided with a nod at Alec’s neck before he looked at his watch.
Papa: Where are you? You’re 10 mins late.
Papa: Why aren’t you answering my calls? Are you okay? Where are you?
Papa: Max, please answer me! Why can’t I track you right now?
Papa: Raf said you’re fine, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore me. I’m still worried.
Papa: MAX! Please just call me…
Max dropped his wrist and rubbed his eyes. He brushed away the salt residue as he pushed out a long breath, puffing out his cheeks a little. When he looked back at Alec, the edge to his stern look seemed to have melted a little.
“What’s the plan with me?” Max asked again while rubbing at the back of his neck. He could feel the heat of the stares of everyone behind him on it.
“Magnus wants to speak with himself to verify some things,” Alec stated with a glance behind Max.
He nodded as he undid his watch. “Makes sense. He has no reason to trust me.” He tried to keep the emotion out of his voice. At best, he sounded strained. At worst, he sounded broken. Max turned to the rest of the room and walked over to the fireplace, watch in hand. He waved a hand at the painting on the mantle and looked to Magnus, who snapped his fingers. Where the painting had been was now a large flatscreen television. Jace raised an eyebrow. He hadn’t thought of Magnus as a TV kind of guy. Max’s fingers began bleeding out green smoke. After a few moments, the screen was black aside from the small text in the corner.
Clary, Isabelle, Jace, and Alec all sat down while Magnus stayed standing in front of the screen, waiting.
“Now isn’t the greatest time, darling,” Magnus mumbled as his face blinked onto the screen. Max heard Alec, who’d decided to share the couch with him, take a quick breath in. Max’s lips curved up at the edges in a small smile.
Behind him they could see bright linens hanging. The diffused sunlight made his tanned skin glow. The gold shimmer along his lips, cheekbones, collarbone, and temples teamed with the white latticing of fabric over his shoulders and the light shining through the pastel ends of his hair made him look ethereal, unreal and untouchable. He looked more like an angel than a warlock.
“It’s important to make time for yourself,” Magnus chided himself.
“Ah, finally. I’m guessing you haven’t started helping yet because you’re unsure about the situations, yes? Well, while you’ve been questioning my son and probably making him feel even worse about the current situations, I’ve been getting some actual legwork in,” Magnus said quickly as he walked out from the tent. “Meliorn is asking around. Tessa is searching through the records in the Spiral Labyrinth. And,” Magnus paused as he focused his gaze beyond Magnus, onto Max,” I’ve been avoiding your father like the bloody plague because you still haven’t called him back!”
Magnus’ brow furrowed at the mention of Max’s father. He turned around to witness Max’s response.
“How exactly am I supposed to call him back when I’ve been with this lot the whole time since I’ve been in this mess? I doubt it’d be a good idea for them to find out exactly who he is!” Max burst out, motioning to the shadowhunters around him. “And what the hell am I going to say? You know he’s sees through all my lies!”
“Then don’t lie,” Magnus said in a solemn voice. “You know he’ll find out eventually. You know Susan can’t keep his mouth shut--”
“You told Uncle Simon?” Max asked, eyes wide.
“Yes. You know he does have resources. Just like your father does . He’ll be able to help. Plus, this is putting me in a very unpleasant position. If you don’t call him immediately after this call, I will be telling him everything,” Magnus said sternly.
“Could we set aside the family drama for a moment?” Magnus asked as he turned back to the screen. “I have some things to discuss with you.”
Both of the men continued their conversation in a language none of the shadowhunters had ever heard before. After a few minutes they all, plus Max, moved into the kitchen.
“What language is that?” Isabelle asked the room once they were away from the Magnuses.
“Probably Malay,” Max said as he peered into the refrigerator.
“I’ve never heard of that,” Jace said, skeptical.
“It’s his native tongue, I think. At least, that’s the closest modern language to it. It’s from Indonesia. I don’t know much about it,” Max explained as he found a cup in the disorganized cupboards and got some water for himself. Clary followed him, getting herself some as well.
“Max, how are you holding up?” Clary asked in a gentle voice as he settled himself on one the the stools surrounding the kitchen island. Max smiled into his cup before taking a sip.
“Well, Dad’s convincing himself to help me and not attack me or whatever. I’m surrounded by the most important people in my life, but they have no idea who I am and are a little hostile towards me. And I need to explain all this to Papa and face his disappointed. And he--uh,” Max coughed, taking another drag from his glass. “Alec won’t answer what it is you plan on doing with me. I’m still functioning, so I’d say I'm better than I would have expected.”
Jace leaned against the counter and crossed his arms with his eyebrows raised. “And I thought I had problems,” he said with a forced laugh. Isabelle and Clary both sent him a look. Alec rolled his eyes as he leaned against the fridge.
“If it helps, Alec hasn’t told you what we’re going to do yet because we aren’t too sure ourselves. Hopefully, those two will figure something out together,” Isabelle offered before sitting down on a stool next to him.
They sat there without saying anything more for what felt like an hour. All they could heard were the foreign words coming from the other room coming from the same voice. Max had heard his dad ramble to himself before, but listening to this took it to a whole new level.
“Why do you have a stele ?” Alec asked out of nowhere, breaking their silence. Max turned to see his brow furrowed and his arms crossed.
Why was everyone so damn standoffish , Max thought to himself. He pulled on the chain around his neck until the stele emerged. He twirled it in his fingers with familiarity. “It was a gift from you,” Max said as he quickly tucked it back where it belonged. “I’d explain more, but that would lead to more confusion and explaining and I still don’t know what I’m allowed to say and what will mess everything up--if it will mess everything up.”
Alec nodded to him, but didn’t relax his expression nor his stance. He was looking at Max like a puzzle to be solved, an unknown element to be calculated. Always the soldier, always the leader , Max thought with a sad smile. He was used to seeing him with that expression, but that was the first time he'd seen it directed towards himself.
“I see you’ve all made yourselves comfortable,” Magnus commented from the doorway. Max hadn’t noticed the other room go quiet. “He had to go, but he wanted to make sure you went to call your father immediately,” Magnus said, looking at Max.
“You just want me out of the room so you can talk about me,” Max mumbled as he got up. When he passed Magnus in the doorway, his future father gave him a small smile and squeezed his arm.
“Chin up. We’ll sort this.”
“Before you say anything, let me explain,” Max said quickly when Alec’s face appeared on the screen. He didn’t want everyone in the other room to hear Alec’s voice. Then he’d have a lot to explain. Especially when he knew Papa wasn't even out before the wedding.
Alec raised his eyebrows and waited. Max took in a deep breath and explained everything that had happened so far from the Institute to Alec being a little bit of a dick to Clary trying to be supportive Magnus accusing him of being in league with Asmodeus to him having a mini breakdown and so on. He couldn’t stop himself from rambling on about the most insignificant little details like how Magnus had answered the intercom, which made Alec smile a little, remembering. Max took in another deep breath.
“And they’re in the kitchen right now and could probably hear you if you spoke and they know I’m talking to my father. So…” Max trailed off. He hoped Papa would just take control of all this, like he usually did. Max didn’t think he was cut out for all this crap.
“They’d find out anyway. Might as well ease some confusion and make communication easier,” Alec said. “I’m just glad you’re alright, aside from the breakdown, but that’s to be expected. This is a lot to take in,” Alec said, reassuringly.
Max nodded and smiled. The tears that had been welling up while he was venting started falling down his cheeks in relief. He wiped them away quickly.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you at first,” Max said, voice low. “I know how stressed you’ve been with the negotiations and I didn’t want to add anything else onto your plate.”
“You aren’t a burden,” Alec said softly as he leaned forward on his desk. “You are so important. To me, Dad, Raf, Jace, Izzy, everybody . We want you safe and happy. Stop trying to fight us on it all the time.” Max let out a smile laugh and wiped away more of the tears streaking down into the collar of his shirt. “Alright, you good?” Max nodded.
“Yeah, I’m good. This is all just...overwhelming.”
“You think you’re ready to get the others so we can talk about this whole situation?” Alec asked. His voice never strayed from its gentle, soothing tone.
Max nodded as he stood from his seat on the coffee table. He heard the murmurs from the kitchen more clearly as he approached.
“I get that he needs to be a top priority, but him showing up doesn’t make Valentine any less threatening. We need to wake up my mom,” Clary said with her arms crossed.
“He probably knows how to wake her up since I’m assuming she does at some point. Why don’t we negotiate? Our help getting him home for information,” Jace offered. He kept his focus between Alec and Magnus, clearly avoiding Clary’s gaze.
“We don’t know how Max sharing information with us will affect the future,” Magnus reminded them.
“Well, that’s not our future yet. Would it be so bad to change it?” Isabelle asked the room.
“Seeing as that’s my life you’re talking about, I’d rather not risk it,” Max said, announcing his presence to the room. Everyone straightened up as their eyes found his. “He wants to talk to you guys,” he continues. He points over his shoulder back into the main room. “You should probably prepare yourselves. I honestly have no idea how you’ll take who it is…” Max turned on his heel and strutted back into the main room. He heard everyone move to follow him.
The screen was still showing Alec’s office, but he was nowhere in sight.
“Is that supposed to be your office?” Isabelle asked, pointing at the stained glass window in the back. Alec furrowed his brow.
“It could be,” he responded, voice low with curiosity.
They all watched the screen in silent shock when Alec came into the frame. He sat on his desk and set a leatherbound book down next to him before crossing his arms. He was wearing a dark grey henley with the first two buttons undone, dark boots, and jeans. His hair was a tamed mess of waves on his head.
Max watched as Papa took in the faces looking at him: Magnus seemed to be frozen to the spot, barely breathing; Jace’s eyebrows were dangerously close to becoming one with his hairline; Isabelle’s eyes were almost as wide as her grin; Clary was smirking while shooting looks between the screen, Magnus, and Alec; and then there was Alec. Max couldn’t say he was surprised by the absolute shock in the man’s expression. He tore his eyes off of himself to steal a glance at Max and then to Magnus. When their eyes met, the Alec on the screen cleared his throat.
“Max left out exactly when we are,” Alec said. He uncrossed his arms and held his hands on his lap, his fingers twirled the Lightwood family ring on his middle finger.
“We just gave the Cup over to the Clave to save me,” Isabelle said simply.
Alec nodded as he picked up the book next to himself and riffled through the pages. He glanced up at his younger self before addressing him. “You don’t need to look so horrified. Everyone here already knows you’re gay.”
“Which we are all totally fine with,” Jace said as he gave Alec’s stiff shoulder a pat.
“H-how,” Alec started before giving his head a little shake. “How is he my son with Magnus? I’m marrying Lydia in a few days,” he asked his older self. “And why do you look, like, 25 at most? Shouldn’t I, you, whatever be 40-something?” Alec finished a bit more frantically, running his hand through his already messy hair.
“Have we figured out whether or not your actions are changing this future or not yet?” Alec asked Max while rubbing at the back of his neck.
“Dad said he didn’t think it was since you guys aren’t forming new memories or whatever, but he wasn’t sure,” Max explained. “Unless he said something else to you earlier,” he added with a look to Magnus.
He didn’t seem to have noticed being addressed. He had one hand resting over his mouth with his elbow resting in his other hand. His eyes were wide with laugh lines showing in the corners. Max could tell he was hiding a blinding grin.
“Mags?” Alec prodded from the screen with a small smirk. The warlock’s eyes snapped up at the nickname.
“Sorry, this is a bit to take in,” Magnus said with a dismissive flourish of his hand. “Meliorn shared his idea that this is creating a branching reality instead of changing your current one. Path of least resistance and all that. I’d say go ahead and spoil us, but my reality isn’t the one at risk of being altered.”
“We’ll wait to explain some things until I speak with Magnus,” Alec said with a tone of finality. “Have you figured out a plan of attack?”
“Max and I will stay here and research. We could know what more can be done if we knew whether we should focus some of us on waking Jocelyn and trying to find Valentine,” Magnus said with a lilt to his voice. Alec rolled his eyes.
“Jocelyn isn’t in danger being asleep right now. You’ll all be in greater danger if Valentine gets his hands on Max, so he is your only priority right now,” Alec ordered the group.
“Sure you aren’t a little biased in this decision? Also, since when do you give us orders?” Jace interjected. He took a step closer to the screen.
“I’m not going to dignify that first part with a response. And if you won’t take orders from me…” Alec trailed off before standing and walking out of sight. Within a few seconds he was taking his seat again, smirking.
Suddenly, the image was nothing but a swish of bright orange. There stood an older-looking Clary with a sleeping, blond toddler in her arms. Her hair was haphazardly tied in a knot at the top of her head. There were bags under her eyes. She didn’t look much different from the Clary in the room with them aside from the light creases in her face. Alec stood and took the kid from her before walking out of the frame. Everyone watched as her gaze followed him out of the room.
“Jonathan Christopher, you are going to get my nephew back to me no matter the cost,” Clary said with a fire in her words. Jace took a small step back with his eyes wide. “I don’t care what you’re dealing with right now. You get past it, so put it the fuck aside for the time being. Trust me, your angst isn’t going anywhere. If anything happens to Max because of you, you’ll pay for the rest of your life. And honestly, I can’t believe you’re even trying to put on this bad boy bravado when your parabatai’s son is at risk--your own damn nephew!” Clary finished in a yell.
Alec put a hand on Jace’s shoulder while he pressed his lips together trying not to laugh. Max’s shoulders were shaking, but no sound was coming out. Clary’s wide doe-eyes hadn’t left the screen.
“Maxy, if he gives you any problems, just let me know, okay?” Clary said in a concerned tone. He gave her a smile and a nod. “Now, I need to get back to the kids. We're practicing drawing runes today. Message me if you need anything.”
With a click, the image was gone.
Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know what you think in the comments! Kudos are greatly appreciated. <3
Chapter 3: Facing the Future
Magnus and Alec face the implications of what their future holds for them.
Max stepped up to the television and took back his watch. When he turned around, no one had moved. Everyone was either looking at Alec or Magnus, the former looked as if he was willing the ornate rug to swallow him whole.
“Well, at least we know I’m still a badass,” Clary said, breaking the thick silence that had begun seeping into the room. Alec let out a short laugh and shook his head.
“Of course you are,” Isabelle said. “Nobody could take that fire away from you. And I must give future-you props. Not many things can leave Jace speechless.”
Everyone’s gaze fell to Jace. Alec still had a grounding grip on his shoulder. Jace’s eyes weren’t focused on anything like was trapped in his own thoughts.
“What’s his deal?” Max said, jabbing his thumb in his uncle’s direction. “It’s not like Clary did anything unusual. She tells him off like that all the time,” he went on as he fastened his watch. Clary raised her eyebrows at him.
“It might be the fact the his sibling just said ‘our kids’ to him and he’s not sure of the meaning of those words--or more likely, afraid to know it,” Magnus offered as he passed behind Max on the way to his drink cart.
“What are you talking about?” Max asked, incredulous. He turned to Magnus before sweeping the room with his arms out like he was willing an explanation to fall into them. “You’re a Fray,” he said, pointing to Clary, “and you’re a Herondale!”
“Excuse me?” Jace asked, eyes wide.
“Oh shit. I probably shouldn’t have said anything. I mean, this all works out and you guys get marr--okay, yeah. I’m really gunna stop talking right now,” Max rambled as dropped his arms to his sides, not looking at anyone.
“Married? So, that was our kid?” Clary asked softly. Max didn’t answer.
The only sound in the room were the bottles clinking together as Magnus made himself a drink. When he turned, he held out a glass to Alec, who took it hesitantly. Magnus raised his own glass to his lips and sipped.
“I believe we have more pressing matters to attend to than your future marital issues,” he said.
“He’s right. This can all wait,” Isabelle said as she hooked arms with Clary. “How about we go talk to Meliorn? You never know. He may say something different than what he told future-Magnus. Besides, I doubt Magnus tried my methods,” She began walking towards the door as she was speaking. “Jace, you too.”
Magnus, Alec, and Max stared after them when the door clicked shut.
“Well, that was subtle,” Max said under his breath. He rubbed at the back of his neck before turning to face his parents who were avoiding each other’s eyes. “So, your workroom is through here, right?” he asked. He pushed at the sliding screen, practically jumped into the room. “I’ll just start looking through some notes and books and stuff. Don’t worry. I know what to stay away from.” He shut the door behind himself leaving Alec and Magnus alone.
Alec finally moved from his spot near the television when he slowly sat himself on the arm of the couch, shoulders slumped inward. He held the glass Magnus had given him gently cradled in his fingers. Magnus took a long swig before seating himself in the middle of the couch, sure to keep enough space between Alec and himself.
Alec lifted his head to look at Magnus. His face was impassive. His usually bright eyes and demeanor were stagnant like the life that sprung forth in his movements and words were put on pause until--until something Alec wasn’t sure of. Magnus stared back at Alec, waiting.
“I-I don’t know how to start this,” Alec said as he turned to face Magnus. He slid down on the couch.
“I must say, this is a new situation for me,” Magnus said with a small smile. He took Alec’s glass and set it on the coffee table with his own. “Though how you feel is usually a good starting place.”
“I have no idea how I feel,” Alec said in a gush of air. “My-my whole life I’ve been told that emotions only hold us back--distract us--and now they’re running my life, b-but none of this is even about how I feel!” Alec said a little too loudly. He ran his hands through his hair. “I have to marry Lydia or my family loses everything. It doesn’t matter how...how happy the idea of us having a future makes me. I’m supposed to sacrifice myself because--because my parents were in the Circle and because Clary, Jace, and Izzy all fucked up so much because I couldn’t stop them,” Alec said quickly. He pulled in a shaky breath. Magnus leaned forward.
“Future you,” Magnus said, motioning to the mantle, “was standing in your office at the Institute. Max was on his way there to train. And we know this ,” he says waving a hand between them, “turns into that--turns into a committed relationship with two sons.”
Alec pulled his brows together and took in a deep breath. “But how?”
“You’d have to ask Max or our future selves about that one, but that may be for us to find out ourselves.” Magnus paused before grabbing his drink. He walked over to the wall of windows and stared out it. “That’s if you do want that future,” he finished in an almost whisper. He heard Alec get up and move to stand behind him.
Alec opened his mouth to say something--pour out how much he has wanted this since he met Magnus, how much he still does want this, but nothing comes out. He was used to words failing him, but since he met Magnus it was frustrating him more than ever. Magnus turned to face him. It was a mirror of the night he healed Luke. That same vulnerability Alec saw in Magnus’ eyes when he told him he’d unlock something inside of him was there.
Magnus opened his mouth to speak, but stopped when Alec raised his hand up to his cheek. He took in a sharp breath when Alec’s knuckles caressed his shimmering cheekbone. He closed his eyes for a moment and leaned into Alec’s touch. He wanted to memorize the feeling of him being so gentle, so open with him. He opened his eyes when Alec took his drink from him and set it down on the cart.
He’d never seen Alec look so vulnerable--not with the demon, Velac; not when sharing his strength; not even when Magnus had taken his bow. His eyes were wide, yet filled with a softness he didn’t know the shadowhunter was capable of. Alec cupped Magnus’ face and brushed his thumb lightly across the cheekbone the back of his fingers had already gotten to know. Alec’s gaze shot down to Magnus’ lips. He pulled his own bottom lip lightly between his teeth and swallowed loud in the silent room. They met eyes again.
They both leaned forward into each other. Alec’s hand moved to cup the back of Magnus’ neck, guiding him to his lips. His other hand fluttered to Magnus’ hip. Magnus’ hands curled around the collar of Alec’s shirt. They closed their eyes as their lips connected.
At first, they pressed their lips together gently. The only roughness was Alec’s anxiety-bitten lips catching against Magnus’ soft, plump ones. Magnus slowly moved his arms up to wrap around Alec’s neck and leaned up on his tiptoes to reach Alec better. The latter let out a muffled laugh against Magnus’ lips before bending down a bit more, meeting Magnus on his level.
Alec titled his head to the side a bit more and kissed Magnus again with a little more pressure, testing the waters. They relaxed into the feel of each other as their bodies pulled together. The kiss kept a languid pace. It was as if everything around them had stopped. There was no need to rush. All that was important was experiencing the warmth of Alec’s breath on Magnus’ face, the tingling the Magnus fingers sent through Alec’s scalp and all the way down his spine as his fingers gently tangled in his hair, and the sweet taste of fruit finally tasted after so much dreaming.
Eventually, Alec’s neck began protesting at the strained angle they’d kept. He pulled back a little and kissed Magnus nose, forehead, and then the crown of his head. Magnus’ eyes were still closed. They stayed molded together, catching their breath.
“You never cease to amaze me, Alexander,” Magnus whispered against his collarbone.
Papers fell on Max’s head when he pulled a book from the top of the dustiest bookshelf in Magnus’ workroom. He groaned out a sigh before setting down the still dust-covered book. Before he could fully bend down to the retrieve the papers, a loud sneeze forced him down on his haunches and sent the papers fluttering further away from him. He groaned again.
“If I’d known your idea of research was trashing the place, I would have come sooner,” Magnus said from the door behind him. Max scoffed and picked up the papers.
“Like you’re any better.” He flashed a smirk back at Magnus who returned it in kind. The familiar banter helped Max feel more at ease, pushing the jitteriness that had settled in him aside.
“Find anything of potential use?” Alec asked when he stepped into the workroom, pocketing his phone.
Alec looked over the bookshelf closest to him. There wasn’t a single book he’d heard of or seen before. He could only make out a few titles between the various languages most were written and worn states:
Magic and Technology: 27th Edition
Nine Princes of Hell: Fact, Fiction, and More
Greater Demon Summoning and Controlling
Utilizing Natural Energy Currents
“Not really. It doesn't help that none of this is organized,” Max said.
“Excuse you,” Magnus tutted. “It is all organized by relevance.” He snapped his fingers. The shelves that were thick with dust now glistened with polish and smelled a little of lemon and oil.
Alec stepped over to the pile of books Max had been making. He flipped through a few of them with a furrowed brow. Max plopped down in the armchair in the corner with the papers he’d accidentally gotten down. Magnus scanned over the spines of his numerous books, pulling out one here and there before putting it back.
Over the next hour, they searched through Magnus’ stacks. Alec and Max tackled the books and paper written in English while Magnus scoured the journals written in languages Alec had never seen before.
He was zoned into a book on the history of portals--finally getting past the introduction, which Magnus had written, after reading it a few more times than necessary. Alec felt his phone buzz against his leg followed by a low chime which didn’t seem to disturb the other two from their engrossing search. Alec rubbed the back of his neck as he read the message:
Lydia Branwell: Just heard about this morning. Where are you? What's going on? Call me.
“What’s wrong?” Max asked when he looked up from his current book to see Alec looking sullen.
“Uh, Lydia wants to know what’s going on,” Alec responded. “To be honest, I’m surprised it took her this long.” He set down his book and stood to leave.
“She can’t know about him,” Magnus chimed in before Alec could turn to leave. “The Clave cannot know about him or this situation.”
Alec gave him a short nod before stepping out, phone in hand.
Max let out a long breath. He leaned forward, elbows rested on his knees and his face covered by his hands. He knew Alec wouldn’t risk his safety...right?
“How are you holding up?” Magnus asked, voice soft. Max appreciated the change in Magnus’ attitude toward him. Where he had been suspicious and possibly contemptuous, Max could now feel genuine, albeit insecure, protection and concern.
What did you and Dad even talk about? Max thought to himself before responding to his weighty question.
“I’m not freaking out at the present moment though that might just be because I still haven’t really wrapped my head around the idea of being in the wrong time for the past, what, like three hours?” Max said with a small chuckle to himself and his ludicrous situation. He slumped back in the chair. “So you might want to ask me again in ten minutes or so.
“If anything I just feel like a burden, and idiotic burden. Like, I know I shouldn’t have tried to use a portal myself let alone make one! Raf and I always joke that we know when we actually shouldn’t do something if you’re the one saying it yet I still end up in situations like this. I mean, not like this ,” Max emphasized with the wide swing of his arm. The fist under Max’s chin was clenched so tightly as he spoke that the knuckles were turning grey. “And I’m not even just the usually burden that I am when I fuck up immensely because this time I’m not only causing problems for the whole family, but I’m managing to do so to your past selves before I’m even supposed to exist!”
“Tearing yourself apart is only going to hurt yourself. It does no good,” Magnus said in a soft tone. He walked over to Max and crouched down with a little bounce before putting a hesitant hand on Max’s knee. “You don’t know that this wouldn’t have happened any time you tried to make a portal. You don’t know that this wasn’t under the influence of something bigger. We don’t know enough about what’s going on to reach any conclusions, let alone try and place blame,” Magnus tilted his head, trying to catch Max’s eyes. “Not that there should be blame placed.”
Max nodded before looking away from Magnus. He pulled his bottom lip between his teeth, worrying it. They stayed like that for a moment. Max’s breathing evened out from the fast pace his outburst had brought on. At least I’m not crying this time, he thought when Magnus stood back up.
“How are your magic levels?”
“Not great. Apparently time travel takes a bit more than I’m used to,” Max answered. “But I’ll be fine. We have work to do.” When he leaned to pick up his research again, Magnus stopped him.
“Go rest. You can sleep wherever: the couch, my bed, the floor,” Magnus said with a wink. “I have a feeling we’ll all be needing our top strength. Besides,” he continued when he turned back to his bookshelves, “I think the Spiral Labyrinth would prove more fruitful than my limited collection.”
Max stood slowly. He hadn’t noticed how drained he was until now. He was magically and emotionally drained. Some sleep would definitely help him feel more like himself instead of a walking bruise.
“I’ll go inform Alexander,” Magnus said as he closed the workroom door behind himself.
Max flopped down onto the couch face first. Magnus let out a small laugh before snapping his fingers. A light blanket settled over him and an almost-too-fluffy pillow thumped down on his head. He pulled the blanket up to his chin and wrapped his arms around the pillow like a teddy bear.
Magnus was smiling when he walked over to the kitchen where he could hear Alec talking.
“In case you forgot, the Clave is already incredible suspicious of all of us,” Alec said sternly into his phone. “We have to explain ourselves somehow. Right now we can’t risk breaking the rules, and in case you forgot, running off without orders or any explanation with an unknown warlock is very against the rules.”
Alec leaned back against the counter with his head thrown back in frustration. He listened to Jace try to retort. He tried to focus on what he was saying, but his mind was all over the place.
What am I going to say to Lydia about Max? What about the wedding? I have to call it off, but that will just put us in even worse standing with the Clave…
“Jace, just get back to the Institute as soon as you can. The longer we’re gone, the worse it looks.” He paused when Jace interrupted him. “I can’t go back yet. I’m kind of looking after my son right now!” He hadn’t meant to raise his voice. Alec let out a huff before continuing. “Just, do this. Please.” He pulled the phone away from his ear and ended the call. It clattered against the marble counter when he threw it down.
“Things going that well, are they?” Magnus asked from the doorway. Alec looked down at him, eyes a little wide with surprise. He must have really been distracted for Magnus to be able to sneak up on him like that.
“Hopefully Jace is heading to the Institute to try and smooth things over with Lydia,” Alec said. His voice sounded drained and downtrodden. Magnus walked over to stand across from Alec against the kitchen island.
“Max is sleeping on the couch. Turns out time travel takes a bit out a person,” Magnus said, changing the subject. Alec nodded.
“They didn’t learn anything knew from Meliorn, not that I was expecting them to,” Alec said.
“If you don’t mind keeping an eye on Max, I can see if there’s any information of use at the Spiral Labyrinth.”
“That makes sense. If there’s anything to find out, it would probably be there.” Alec paused for a moment with a sideways glance to the other room. He turned back to Magnus. “And I-I don’t mind staying here...with him.”
“Feel free to make yourself comfortable,” Magnus said with the corner of his mouth curved upward. “My wards should be more than enough to let you relax, though I do suggest you don’t spend too my time in my workroom. Some of the ingredients hidden away in there aren’t too pleasant.”
“Oh, uh, okay,” Alec mutters. He looked down at the floor between them. He wondered to himself where all his confidence from earlier had gone.
“But you can still continue rereading my introduction on discovering the portal, if you wish,” Magnus said with a lilt in his voice. Alec’s eyes shot up to meet his. He could feel his face warming up. Magnus smiled at him before sauntering out of the room. “I’ll be back in a few hours.”
Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know what you think, if you see any mistakes, or whatever in the comments. Kudos keep me going.
More to come soon!
Come talk to me on Tumblr: achilleanragnor
Chapter 4: Same Guy, Different Time
Max and Alec get one-on-one time.
The flies began swarming around him. Max tried to swat them away, but with each movement more and more appeared. They were so thick they blocked out everything around him: Dad, Papa, his whole family aside from Rafa, who was fighting just as hard next to him. He shut his eyes and focused his magic. He felt both himself and Rafa send out a pulse. Right before his eyes, the flies melted into a thick smoke. It slithered over his face, pried open his mouth and muffled his screams on the way down into his lungs.
Max shot up with a gasp. The blanket slid from his torso onto the floor; the majority of it tangled with his legs. He blinked hard a few times as he tried to get his bearings.
“You okay?” Max snapped his attention to the source of the voice. Alec was sitting in the armchair across from the couch with a book in his hands. He relaxed at the sight of him. It’s just Papa , he thought.
“Uh, y-yeah,” Max said before he swallowed hard in an attempt to rid his throat of the lump that had formed from his dream. “Just a weird dream is all.” He flopped back down against the pillow. He took in the apartment. Fuck . He wanted to smack himself. Shake off the cobwebs. We aren’t home yet... Max turned to face Alec.
“Magnus said he’d be been in a few hours about four hours ago,” Alec said as he closed his book and set it on the coffee table. He leaned forward in the chair, resting his elbows on his knees and let out a heavy sigh.
“Time feels a little different in the Spiral Labyrinth,” Max offered. “Plus, him taking so long probably means he found something. I doubt he’d just hang out there if there’s nothing to be found.”
It felt backwards being the one trying to comfort Alec, but he could see how stressed he was. Max had never seen him look so weighed down. Not when there were issues with the Institute, not when he was negotiating the Accords, not when Rafa had been sick. It broke Max’s heart to see the lost kid his father used to be. All he wanted to do was make him better, make him smile and look a little lighter.
Alec looked at Max for a quiet moment. “Have you been to the Spiral Labyrinth?”
“Oh, no, I haven’t, but Dad has told me about it. I’m still too young for him to trust me with my magic which is kinda funny since he was on his own by my age. I think he’s just waiting until my brother is deemed old enough before figuring out if we’re even allowed there,” Max said. He tried to keep his tone light. Alec’s brow furrowed.
“Why wouldn’t you be allowed? You’re a warlock,” Alec stated simply.
Oh …Max thought as it clicked into place. They think I’m adopted.
“I don’t know a lot of the details, nor do I want to, but long story short, I’m your and Magnus’ biological son. So is my brother,” Max said slowly as he sat up to face Alec more fully.
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
Max rolled his eyes. He pulled on the chain around his neck until he was holding his stele. He held it up pointedly before holding it over his arm. The crystal on the end glowed a pale red as he passed it over his forearm. A rune appeared where he’d gone over, and with it, all the runes on his body appeared. Alec’s eyes flew open wide. He could make out the Angelic Power rune over Max’s naval, the Accuracy rune on the back of his left hand, and what he thought was the end of the Soundless rune peaking out from the hem of his shirt. There was a Mark on his collar bone that Alec had never seen before.
“Apparently mixing such powerful blood turns into powerful offspring. Tia explained the makeup of my blood to me once, but I was not having it with all that technical talk. What I got out of that three hour long conversation was that runes should be fine on me--I mean, I have twice the recommended dosage of angelic blood--but she didn’t know how my magic would present itself. Of course, she’s had more experience with shadowhunter DNA than warlock, right?” Max rambled on. He gave Alec a small half-smile, but he didn’t reciprocate. Alec hadn’t moved since he saw the Marks. “Alec? You okay?”
He blinked before looked Max in the eyes for a second before returning his stare to his collarbone. “What is that Mark?” Alec asked quietly. “And why does your stele glow red?”
Max fumbled at his stele, putting his glamour back on. “You don’t need to worry about that yet. I have a feeling that I definitely shouldn’t spoil that tidbit. I’m guessing you’ll figure it out soon enough anyway.”
For a moment, Alec looked like he was going to argue, but eventually just leaned back in his chair with his head thudding against the back. He looked out the row of windows without really seeing anything. Max knew that look. He was overwhelmed, which Max could completely sympathize with.
Max untangled himself from the blanket and stood. “Want anything from the kitchen?” Alec shook his head quickly. He rested his head on his hand.
Once in the kitchen, Max searched about the cabinets in search of coffee. It took him a moment to figure out how to work Magnus’ overly complicated machine, but eventually he was brewing himself a cup. He sat at the island and rested his head against the cool counter while he waited.
By the time he returned to the main room, Alec was nose-deep in that book again.
“Aren’t you through with that one yet?” he asked before taking a swig of his coffee and settling back onto the couch. “That’s the one you had before and I know you’re a fast reader.”
Alec closed the book again and ran a hand through his hair. “Just been a bit distracted.” He pulled out his phone. His already worn expression worsened when he looked at the screen.
“After Jace and Izzy didn’t get anything out of Meliorn, they went to the Institute to handle Lydia. Apparently, when you’re already under suspicion by the Clave, it’s a bad idea to run off with a mysterious warlock,” Alec explained. “Trying to diffuse her is proving more than Jace can handle.”
“I’m sorry I fucked everything up so much,” Max said in a low voice. Alec looked up to see him with his cat eyes downcast, staring into his mug.
“Everything was already pretty messed up. If anything, you showing up here has helped. I have no clue how he managed to get out of the situation I’ve put myself in,” Alec said with a glance to the television.
“Well, it was pretty dramatic,” Max said with a smirk as he remembered the story. “I could tell you if we find out I’m not changing the future or anything.”
“No matter what, the future is already changed. Look at the Butterfly Effect, Chaos theory, whatever you want to call it. The only question is whether this is shifting your reality or branching this reality to a different endpoint,” Alec said thoughtfully.
“Since when do you know so much about timelines and whatever?”
Alec gave a small smile. “I thought you knew I’m a reader.” Alec stood and walked into the kitchen with his phone.
Max shook his head with a smile. He sipped at his coffee and checked his watch. Two missed messages:
Papa : How are things going? How are you doing?
Rafa : Let me know when you can talk.
Max tapped at his watch, replying to Papa before he got mad at him for not responded quick enough. We don’t pay for that so you can’t answer us , Max heard his words in his head. He tapped again on Rafael and waited. The screen flashed.
“What’s going on?” Max asked before his brother could say hello.
“Why are you asking me that? You’re the one trapped with teenage Papa and playboy Dad,” Rafael said with a scowl.
“Hey, Max?” Alec called as he walked back into the main room.
Max looked up with big, doe eyes and slammed a hand on his watch.
“Uh, yeah?” Max responded quickly.
Alec raised an eyebrow at him. “Looks like there’s no option other than have a meeting with Lydia.”
“Well, you have fun. I’ll just wait around--”
“A meeting with you and Lydia,” Alec clarified. “I told Magnus I would keep you safe. Yeah, the Institute isn’t the best place, but a twenty-minute meeting is better than her sending out a search party.”
“I thought we were supposed to wait until Magnus got back.”
Alec shrugged. “Guess we’ll just have to spend him a fire message--those can reach the Labyrinth, right?” Max nodded. “Lydia wants us there in an hour.”
Alec went into the workroom and found some paper. Max got up from the couch as he wrote out a note to Magnus. He straightened out the cushions, folded the blanket, and put away his mug. Max saw the flash of light come from the workroom before Alec came out and shut the door behind himself.
“Are you sure it’s safe for me to be out in the city?” Max asked before he opened the apartment door.
“You’ve got me,” Alec said as he put his bow back over his shoulder. "Though Valentine is after all warlocks. Can you glamour your Warlock Marks? It'd be safer that way."
Max sighed before shutting the door and focusing his energy. Alec looked away, not sure of the protocol for magic-use privacy. When he looked back, he saw himself. Aside from the hair color and eye shape, it was a younger version of Alec looking back at him. He hadn't noticed before because--well, because he hadn't looked past the blue. He felt a pang of guilt in his chest. This is his child...
"Ready?" Max said with a frown. He pulled the door back open.
Thank you for being patient! Life got in the way of writing. Please let me know what you think about this chapter and where you think things are going! Kudos and comments = love! <3
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Chapter 5: Familiarity
Alec and Max return to the Institute to face Lydia's questions.
Alec and Max made it to the Institute without any issue. They both stopped at the foot of the stairs leading up to the hulking front door of the church.
“You sure you’re ready for this?” Alec asked.
Max nodded before letting his glamor on his skin slip away. He kept his eyes concealed. He looked down at his blue hands and rubbed at his palm.
“You sure you’re ready?” Max asked with a smirk when he looked back up. “I mean, I wouldn’t be looking forward to seeing my fiancee after doing who-knows-what with my future husband.”
Max hopped up the steps with a smile still playing on his cheeks. Alec swallowed and looked up at the church. Slowly, with much less vigor, Alec followed him.
Raj meet them before they could get past the elevators.
“Hey, Alec,” he greeted and gave a short nod to Max. “Lydia is in her office with Jace. She said to send you up as soon as you arrived.”
“Thanks, Raj. We won’t keep her waiting.”
The walk to Lydia’s office was weighed down by the heavy silence between them. They didn’t pass anyone on the way there. Max glanced in each open door with an eyebrow raised. Rooms that were filled with chairs and a long table that, for Max, should be his cousins’ lesson rooms. In some of the vacated bedrooms Max could only think of he and Rafael playing hide-and-seek while their fathers were off doing important Shadow World things. When they reached the last hallway before their destination, Alec stopped.
“You know that I’ve got your back, right? No matter what. Lydia decides your fate in this--if the Clave is brought in or if it’s forgotten,” Alec rushed out in a whisper. “I’m going to be honest with you. The last downworlder Lydia interrogated was sent to face the Silent Brothers. I won’t let that or anything bad happen to you. She’s open to reason, but she follows the Law. Just,” Alec looked around with a tight jaw before continuing, “just please don’t give her anything to use against you.”
“Thanks for the warning--” Max bit back before he could call him Papa. Alec gave him a nod.
When who-Max-assumed-was-Lydia called for them to enter, he saw Jace in his pissed off, arms on the desk stance with a blonde woman with crossed arms standing behind it.
“Max, I presume?” the woman asked. She motioned for him to sit in one of the chairs next to Jace. “I’m Lydia Brandwell, the current Head of this Institute.”
Branwell? No one ever said she was...
Max looked to Alec before walking forward and slowly taking a seat. He’d heard the horror stories from so many people--Downworlder and Shadowhunter alike--about how awful The Clave was.
His thoughts were threatening to spin him into a panic. Is this where that guy Papa talked about sat? Was he told it was just a meeting and then almost killed? What if I say the wrong thing? Max tried to kept his breathing steady.
He looked back over to Alec. Jace was whispering something in his ear. Alec nodded before closing the door behind Jace.
“I don’t see why you had to call a meeting for this when you could have just waited until I was back,” Alec said in an even voice to Lydia. He sat next to Max after Lydia sighed and took her seat behind the desk.
“You know how things have been. We can’t have unknown variables,” Lydia said to Alec, but shifted her gaze to Max with her last sentence. “I’m just trying to protect us.”
“I understand what you’re trying to do,” Alec said simply. It could have been innocuous enough. Just a statement of agreement, but Max understood the sting behind those words. He didn’t have to know the history--he knew Alec.
Max crossed his leg across his lap and fiddled with the ties on his sandal.
“So, Max,” his eyes widened when he met Lydia’s. “Do you care to explain how you got into the Institute earlier and why?”
Max swallowed. He dug his fingers into the heel of his foot. Keep cool, dude.
“I could, but I feel it really isn’t my place since Magnus Bane is the one that sent me.”
Max heard Alec move in his seat to face him. Lydia leaned forward and clasped her hands over the desk.
“If the High Warlock of Brooklyn has business here, I need to be informed of it beforehand,” she explained.
“Exactly, and he should be the one to do it,” Max said with a nod. “Unfortunately, in these dangerous times, some things hold precedence over others. I’m sure once he has a spare moment, he’ll text one of you.”
Alec stood from his chair slowly with a small upturn at the corner of his mouth. Max stood beside him, with his mouth in a thin line in an attempt not to smile. Alec looked from him to the door.
“Go ahead and find Clary. She’s probably in the infirmary with her mother. I’ll find you when I’m done here,” Alec told Max.
Lydia looked like she was about to protest. Max did not walk faster than acceptable towards the door to get out of that conversation.
Before the door clicked behind him, he heard Alec. “I told you I’d handle things.”
Max found his way down the familiar hallways and into the library without being seen or bothered by anyone. He wasn’t surprised to find it so empty. Most of the time at home, people rarely had the spare time to peruse the shelves--unless they were Papa.
His usual wingback chair was on the opposite side of the room from it was supposed to be, so Max dragged it as quietly as he could across the wood and over to the large stained glass window. He thought of all the times Rafael would hunker down with him in this corner reading books aloud to each other, the time Rafa had found him sulking there after a poor session downstairs at the range, when they helped Daddy reshelf all the books Papa had been scouring over and ended up falling asleep on.
With great care, Max settled himself in the chair, but it didn’t have its usual, worrisome give. Sure, it wasn’t like it was brand new, but it was stable and sturdy. He smiled before lifting up his watch and tapping on it twice.
“I see you had the same idea,” Max said when the image of his brother in the same chair shimmered into focus in front of him.
“Why are you in the Institute? Isn’t that very dangerous right now?” Rafael burst out a bit louder than expected.
“Couldn’t be avoided. Alec is currently trying to prevent The Clave from knowing about me,” Max said.
“The Clave?” Rafael asked with his eyes wide.
“Yeah, as if I wasn’t terrified enough with Valentine Morgenstern hunting warlocks, now the fucking Clave is a possibility!”
“Has Alec ,” Rafael said, stretching out his name, “gone into protective mode or is he all authoritative?”
“Protective now, I think. Before he knew about who Papa is, he was all calculating risk and scowls and everything though.”
Rafael let out a huff. “At least we know some things never change.” Max laughed with him.
“How are Dad and Papa handling this?” Max asked with a little hesitation. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“They’re worried, but doing okay. You might want to text them a little more often, though. You know how Dad can get,” Rafael said with a sad smile. “How are you handling all this?”
Max let out an exaggerated sigh. “You mean how am I coping with plopping myself in the most dangerous time of Papa’s life and putting our entire future at risk?”
“You know this probably isn’t affecting now ,” Rafael cut in. Max ignored him and quickly went on.
“Everything is lovely! It’s all going swimmingly. I got to see Dad’s apartment, witness the awkward tension between Aunt Clary and Uncle Jace back when they thought they were siblings, and, who knows, maybe I’ll get to experience the evils of The Clave we’ve been hearing whispers about our whole lives first hand!” He gave a big, forced smile. Rafael rolled his eyes at him. “Have you and Lucy decided if you’re going to go with the ceremony or not yet?”
“I’m being serious, Maxy.” Rafael looked towards the door. “And keep quiet about that. We still don’t know if you or I can even have a parabatai.”
“I’m sorry, Rafa,” Max said in a now low tone. “I freaked out this morning after Magnus accused me of being part of some huge plot involving a certain Prince del Infierno .”
“Oh shit! Yeah, that’s completely understandable to be sent over the edge for that alone, forget everything else,” Rafael voiced in shock.
“That was not a good time. And later, when he made me rest to replenish my magic, I had a creepy-ass dream about flies and smoke and shit.” Max swallowed and rubbed at the back of his neck. “I...I don’t know how I’m gunna do this, hermano .”
“You aren’t doing this alone. Not only do you have everyone, and I mean everyone , over here, but you have everybody there too. Just breathe and let us take some of that weight, okay?”
Max gave a slow nod with his bottom lip pulled between his teeth.
When Alec walked into the infirmary there were two out of the three things he expected: Jocelyn floating in that weird green forcefield and Clary standing beside her with her hands wrapped around her mother’s.
“Where’s Max?” Alec demanded more forcefully than necessary.
Clary let go of her mother’s hand and walked over to him in the doorway.
“Which one?” Clary said with a smirk. “Last I knew Max,” she held her hand far above her head to indicate his height, “was with you and Max,” she dropped her hand down below her chest, “was with Isabelle.”
“Wait, Max is here?”
“Which one?” Clary asked with a smirk. Alec rolled his eyes.
“This is getting ridiculous. I sent him down here an hour ago. You really haven’t seen him?”
“Wow. You’re a father for less than a day and you already lose your kid.” Alec pinched his brow. “I’m sure he’s fine. He knows his way around here.”
Alec turned to go search and--
“Looking for me?” Max said with a bright expression. His eyebrows were slightly raised and Alec could see him holding back a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. Alec was beginning to see more and more of himself in him.
Alec looked him over for a moment. “Where have you been?” He crossed his arms. “I asked you to come straight here.”
“I’m not having the if-I-do-things-straightly talk with you before you even have me,” Max retorted. This time the smile reached his eyes.
Alec heard Clary’s trill of laughter from beside himself. He looked up to the ceiling and sighed.
“Oh my god! You’re even starting to act like a dad!” Clary said while she tried to stop laughing, which wasn’t working so well since Max had joined in.
“Big brother, why do you look like you need to be rescued?” He looked down to see Isabelle smirking at him.
“Alec!” He felt a thump against his hip and looked further down.
“Hey, Max!” He bent down and ruffled his little brother’s hair.
Everyone looked up when the lights flickered for a second. They weren’t looking at Max, who was gripping his stele so hard his knuckles were grey. They couldn’t see the green smoke dissipating around the fingers of his hand he’d shoved in his pocket.
Kept it together. Kept it together. Kept it together.
Thank you so much for reading! Your comments and kudos mean the world to me. <3 Please let me know what you think.
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Chapter 6: Pressure
Meeting his soon-to-be late uncle is the final piece to break an already fragile Max.
Hello everyone! Thank you so much for reading this. I really hope you enjoy this chapter. I'm sorry about not being able to update regularly. My life just doesn't allow for it. Don't know when the next chapter will be up, but I assure you it's going to be a doozy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Uncle Max… Max’s hand shot back up to his stele--his namesake’s old stele--pressing in against his sternum. He’d only ever seen him in old photos that Alec never talked to him about. Those big eyes and confident demeanor. Max knew that smile on his uncle’s face would never return in a year or so. That mischievous light in his eyes would be long gone too.
Isabelle straightened up and motioned to him. “Max, this is...Max. He’s helping us with some things.”
“You have my name,” Max stated bluntly with a scrunched face.
“That...” Max said, his voice a little shaky. He swallowed. “That I do.”
“Are you a warlock?” his uncle asked. “I’ve never met one before. Can you show me some magic ?”
“Oh, uh, sort of?”
His uncle looked up to his brother. “Could he help me get my stele back?”
Alec rolled his eyes before bending back down to Max’s level. He put a hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. “Stealing isn’t an option. Be patient. We talked about this. I’ll help you get your stele back as long as you behave.”
“Besides, stealing it would lead to more problems down the road when Mom and Dad find you with it,” Isabelle added with a smirk. Max crossed his arms and gave her a look.
“I wouldn’t get caught and who would punish this face?” He gave them all an exaggerated wink.
Clary, Isabelle, and Alec all laughed.
Max saw the warmth that filled Alec’s eyes as he looked at his little brother. The corners were crinkled and his smile was wide--filled with bright cheerfulness. The only times he’d seen that look on his father’s face were in photos: the Lightwoods gathered together before a holiday meal--Max looked like he was still a toddler; he and Dad at the altar, looking into each other’s eyes; Alec holding him for the first time. Max had never witnessed the effect that smile had on his father for himself. His chest ached when he began to wonder: is this the last time he’ll look at Uncle Max like that ?
He looked down at his watch, his vision blurred. He willing his eyes to stop welling up with tears and tapped out a message:
Papa: te amo
When he looked back up, Clary looked at him. Her eyes were soft and her brow furrowed. He pointed to his watch and motioned over his shoulder. She nodded and gave him a closed-lip smile.
Isabelle and Alec were both laughing with their little brother when Max sidled out of the room. They didn’t look up to see him leave, not the tears that threatened to pour down his cheeks.
Clary watched him go before turning back to her mother. She clasped her hand and brought it to her lips. She understood what it was like to have your family within reach, but feel completely alone.
Max managed to avoid most of the people whose eyes followed him through the comms center. He ran into a blond man just as he slipped into the hallway leading to storage and the spare rooms.
“Sorry,” he muttered to him before he scuttled down the hall.
He took in a labored breath in weak attempt to calm himself. He felt his magic stirring within him in response to his emotional state.
What emotional state? He huffed internally. I’m only meeting dead family members and know that they’re going to die, like, super quick. But hey! It’s just a normal weekday, right?
Crept down the wood-panelled hallways. With his steps he counted out his breaths and tried to let his mind go blank, but that only reminded him of where he learned his coping techniques: Papa. Thoughts of Alec weren’t helping him calm down.
He tried one of the doors. Locked. He tried the next. It opened with a creak. He poked his head in slowly. The back of the room, from what he could make out, was stacked table covered in dust.
Not the best place to panic. A spider would make things worse.
He shut the door and continued down the hall. Max rubbed his fingers together as he felt his chest pound harder. His magic felt like wildfire spreading from his chest, down his arms, and searing into the tips of his fingers.
Calm down, calm down, calm down. Just breathe. Don’t think about your dads or you dead uncle or..yeah. That’s not helping!
The reached the last door in the hall: the stairwell up to the greenhouse. Max paced and counted his breaths with each stair he climbed.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in lessons?” a voice asked from behind the gathered Lightwoods.
Max’s face lit up and he pushed past Alec and Isabelle.
“Jace!” he exclaimed as he jumped up and hugged his other brother.
“Hey there, troublemaker,” Jace replied as he hugged him back with a large grin. “You know, I wasn’t just ragging on you. Mom was asking where you went.”
“Come on, hermano ,” Isabelle said. “I’ll help you find her and come up with an alibi.”
Alec and Jace turned to watch them go, standing shoulder to shoulder. Alec glanced out of the corner of his eye down at Jace. He blinked and focused his gaze back out into the comms center.
“You talked to Clary yet?” Alec whispered with a disinterested tone.
“Not yet,” Jace replied, clearly annoyed. They still hadn’t had the time to patch things up. “Where’s the other Max?”
“He was just--”
“Oh, did you fail to see your son get upset and run out of the room trying not to cry?” Clary said under her breath from behind them.
They both turned around to face her. She held her mother’s hand again, but was looking at both of them with a stern expression.
“Yeah. You may want to find him. I know how everyone looks at Simon and Luke around here and Luke used to be one of you, and Simon was human not that long ago. I can’t imagine how they’ll respond to a warlock kid wandering around without permission or an explanation.”
“Go,” Jace said to Alec. “We’ll talk later.”
Alec nodded to him and patted his arm before going off to find Max.
Jace crossed his arms as he walked into the room, closer to Clary.
“So,” Jace started. He kept his gaze on the wall behind her. “Uh, we should probably--”
“Talk about what we found out at Magnus’?” Clary finished for him. She let go of Jocelyn’s hand and met him in the middle of the room.
Jace nodded. “Yeah, but I don’t think this is the best place.”
“Well, by all means, lead the way.”
Alec stomped down the hall in long, swift strides. His mind was whirring with all the possible places Max could have gone, if something had happened to him. What if he pissed a Shadowhunter off? What if he can’t control his magic? What if someone saw his stele or his...runes?
“Looking for something?”
Hodge rounded the corner and stopped in front of Alec. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall with a familiar look on his face. That look always meant he (or Jace, rather) had been caught.
“What do you mean?” Alec asked.
“Well, I know that look,” Hodge said with a lilt to his voice, “and I just passed a very out-of-it warlock wandering around the Institute without an escort.”
Hodge smiled before sticking his thumb over his shoulder. Alec clapped a hand on his shoulder in thanks as he strode past him down the hall.
“Thanks!” He called back. Alec’s footsteps faded out as he rounded the next corner.
“Oh, you are so welcome, Alec.” Hodge pushed off the wall and strode down the hallway with a smirk. He dug his hand in the pocket of his sweatpants to touch the cool ring waiting for him to report in.
Max pushed open the door with his breathing now steady. He stepped into the familiar space. He could smell the flowers and earth hanging in the air. He hadn’t realized how late it had gotten. Outside the windows it was dark with just the glow from the city. Max goes over to the wall and flicks a switch. All along the paths, little warm lights come to life like fireflies twinkling on a summer night.
It looked very similar to how it did in his time: same paths weaving between the plants, same plants except the trees and bushes were smaller than the ones he knew, same glass looking out onto the city--though the view was noticeably far from the one he’d looked out at for hours upon hours with Jace.
He let his fingers trail over the leaves as he walked along the path. Each plant he passed sparked his dad’s voice providing their uses. This is good in tea, but only the flower. The leaves make it too bitter. Root clippings from this one are good for poisons. Never let anyone trick you into eating the fruit from this tree. Your magic will go haywire for a few days.
When he reached the center of the greenhouse, he sat down on the staircase there and took off his watch. He set it down next to him before shutting his eyes. Max took in a deep breathe. He let the room seep into him. He just focused on the safety he always felt here and let his mind go blank.
All the magic that had building within him slowly unfurled itself in little wisps around his finger tips. He blew out a stream of air as if he was trying to whistle. The wisps followed that breath up and up until they were hovering against the glass. Twenty or so little spheres of green smoke bounced, hovered, and swirled through the open space.
Though Max’s eyes were still closed he could see the whole room through his sprites. He saw himself on the stairs and watched as his glamor wore off. The sight of his dark runes against his blue skin made him feel more connected--more like himself. He saw the branches of the tallest tree and felt each little nudge as one of the wisps rolled down a leaf, to a branch, and down the trunk. Max saw the smile form on his face before he felt the muscles tugging it into existence.
His eyes shut a little tighter and scrunched his nose when two of the wisps chased each other around a fountain. The water splashes slipped right through the smoke, but Max felt the coolness trickle down his calf. His laugh reverberated around him, echoing back through each of his little creations.
In response to him, a few flitted over and swirled around him in a playful whirlwind. He laughed harder as the bits of hair than had fallen out of his bun flew into his face, tickling his nose. They spun closer and closer each rotation a bit slower until the formed a gently spinning halo over Max’s head.
“Stop it!” He laughed and waved a hand through them. They dispersed in a trail of leapfrog up the railing of the spiral stairs.
Max felt lighter than he had for as long as he could recall, in that moment. His mind stayed with the green wisps of smoke that played around him in this bubble of safety. It didn’t wandered downstairs to his late uncle, to his panicking father, to the dangers he knew deep down lurked just outside these walls.
He stayed where he was, for once. He was just a teenager having a bit of fun. He had to take that whenever he could.
Alec opened yet another door, still no Max. He felt his phone buzz against his leg. After a moment of fumbling with his tension-filled fingers he managed to dig it out of his pocket.
“Hello?” Alec breathed out as he moved on down the hall.
“Alexander, I told you to keep him safe so you brought him to the Institute?” Magnus asked. “Please tell me everything worked out with your fiancée and Max is fine.”
“Well, I don’t have a fiancée anymore…” Alec trailed off.
Please let me know what you think down in the comments! Where do you think this is going? Thank you soooo much for reading! <3
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Chapter 7: Overwhelmed
Max comes face-to-face with two more people he never thought he would see outside of his dad's photo albums. He also has to face the prospect of telling his father about what's to come.
I'm sorry for the wait on this chapter! Life got a bit out of hand as did my inspiration. I'm working on my fics for NaNoWriMo, so hopefully that means more soon. Thank you everyone for being so patient and sticking this through, and thank you for the kind words and encouragement! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You broke things off with Lydia?” Magnus asked.
“Well, yeah. There was no point in waiting. Now her efforts can be better focused on Valentine instead of a wedding,” Alec explained as he walked further down the hall to check more of the rooms for Max.
There was a beat before Magnus replied. “I’m just a bit surprised you did it so quickly. You’re sure about this then?”
“Uh, I mean I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m not even, what’s the term?”
“Out?” Magnus offered.
“Yeah, although all the important people already seem to know, anyway, can I call you back in a bit? Once I find Max, we’ll head back over to your place,” Alec said hastily after another room proved to be empty.
“Find him? You lost him in the Institute? I’m portaling there right n--”
“That might not be the best idea since Max through you under the bus with Lydia so she’s expecting an explanation from you about all of this,” Alec huffed out.
“You not only let him put all this on me, but you also let him have a ‘meeting’ with a woman that sent a downworlder to his most certain death because he didn’t give the answers she wanted?”
“I don’t have time for this right now, Magnus. We’ll talk once we’re back at you loft.”
“Lair. It’s not a loft; it’s a lair,” Magnus muttered. “Fine, but text me when you’re ready and I’ll just send you a portal. It’s a lot safer than walking around the city with a warlock and Clary Fray at your side.”
Alec ended the call and pocketed his phone. He reached the end of the hall still without seeing a trace of Max. Hodge was sure he went this way…
By the time he got back to the command center to check the security feed, he was on the verge of panicking. As he tapped away at the controls, going back to find Max leaving Lydia’s office, all he could think about was how much he had failed at keeping his family safe since this whole threat of war had begun.
He flipped through the screens, watching Max go to the library instead of down to see Clary like he’d asked. Alec zoomed through what looked like a private call, not wanting to intrude anymore than he already had by stalking him through the footage. He skipped forward to Max and Isabelle coming into the infirmary. He changed angles to watch Max’s reaction to what would be his uncle.
How had Alec missed him looking so...distraught? He watched him tap something out on his watch before he bolted through the command center and down a hallway--not the hallway Hodge had seen him in. Alec furrowed his brow and changed cameras. There is was. Yeah, they’d bumped into each other, but not where he had said. This was the way to the greenhouse.
Alec went real time and flipped to the cameras in the greenhouse. Sure enough, there was Max sitting on the stairs with his head in his hands. He leaned back in the chair and let out a long sigh of relief. He wasn’t lost or in trouble. Alec hadn’t royally messed up again. He went to click back to the home screen, but stopped. He checked the time stamp on the footage. Then, looked at the real time.
Something wasn’t right. He went to scroll through the footage from the past half hour in the greenhouse, but it was all the same: Max sitting on the stairs. No movement. Nothing changing.
Max’s eyes shot open when his sprites all fizzled out together in a series of pops. There, standing at the edge of the path was the man he had run into downstairs. He scrambled to stand, making sure to grab his watch.
“Whoa, it’s okay,” he said, hands extended in front of him. “Didn’t mean to scare you. Alec is looking for you and it’s probably best you aren’t on your own.”
“Who are you?” Max asked as he stepped down of the stairs, but still kept his distance from the man.
“I feel like I should be asking you that question since you’re the one in my garden,” the man retorted with a small smile.
“Your garden?” Max froze to the spot. He knew who planted this garden, tended to it, until he was arrested--leaving the job to Jace and eventually Simon: Hodge Starkweather.
If you run, you’ll only make things worse. Keep cool. He doesn’t know you know.
“Yeah, you like it?” Hodge lowered his hands slowly and took a step forward. “It’s taken a long time, but I think it’s turning out nicely.”
Max sent him a small smile and nod. “Yeah, looks pretty useful too. Seems like you’ve got a little bit of everything.”
“Thanks. Not many people here see the use in it.” Hodge reached out to rub a lead between his hands.
“We should probably get back downstairs. Like you said, Alec’s looking for me,” Max suggested.
“Oh, yeah,” Hodge turned to walk down the path, but stopped after a step. “You sure you want to go back down with those showing?” His eyes flicked down to Max’s exposed stomach before meeting his eyes again.
Max had the distinct feeling prey being sized up.
He looked down at his arms and his stomach panged and felt like it fell to the floor. His runes were showing. He couldn’t just take out his stele to hide them, then there would be more prodding. You can use a stele? Why does it glow red? He’d never tried to hide his Marks with magic, but he guessed it would be like any other glamour, right?
But he’d already wasted enough magic to calm down and center himself. Like Magnus had said, “ I have a feeling we’ll all be needing our top strength. ”
“Any day now,” Hodge joked. He sounded so normal. He took a step forward. Before Max could stop himself, he took a step back to keep the same distance between them. Hodge’s eyebrows shot up and he up his hands out again. “It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you, but we do need to get going.”
“Right, sorry,” Max said with a shake of his head. Keep it together. “Just been a long day.”
Max motioned for Hodge to lead the way back down the path, towards the stairwell. He looked reluctant for a split second before turning around and walked down the path. Max quickly fumbled with his necklace, got hold of his stele, and activated his rune.
There was a clang on the stairs before the creak of the door opening as Alec ran through it. Both Hodge and Max stopped.
“Max,” Alec huffed out.
“Looks like you’ve got it from here, Alec,” Hodge said before stepping past him with a clap on his shoulder. They both followed him with their eyes as he descended the stairs.
“You okay?” Alec asked.
“What? Uh, yeah. That was just mostly terrifying,” Max sighed out. He rolled his head back to look up through the glass with his hands on his hips.
“What?” Max looked back at Alec to see the confused look on his face.
“Shit, I did it again. Okay, we need to go like now. No, more like ten minutes ago. Just anywhere, but here right now, but I also have no idea what would be the safest way to get out of here. Oh, damn, I fucked up, I fucked up,” Max muttered to himself.
Alec dug his phone out of his pocket and snapped Magnus a picture of the greenhouse. “You’re explaining this once we get back to Magnus’.”
Within the minute, a portal shimmered into being in front of them. Max swallowed and stepped up in front of it with Alec.
“You good?” Alec asked, giving him a side glance.
“Yeah,” Max said, “let’s just hopes this turns out better than the last time I went through a portal.”
Max took a deep breath before stepping forward into the portal. When he came through, he felt a little off balance. When he focused his eyes, he let out a sigh of relief. He and Alec both stood in Magnus’ loft. Nothing had changed--his blanket was even still draped over the arm of the couch.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Magnus asked once the portal dissipated.
Max turned around to see Magnus standing next to the table where a familiar face was giving him a once over: Ragnor Fell. If he wasn’t already trying to get a grip on his bearings from the portal and meeting Hodge, his head would have spun at the sight of thim. He wobbled over to take a seat on the couch.
“What else was I supposed to do?” Alec responded. “You weren’t supposed to take that long and Lydia was about to send out a search party--an order which the Clave would find rather interesting. I took a calculated risk.”
Max rubbed at his face, letting their bickering fade into the background. When he closed his eyes, the situation reminded him of when Rafa had “gone missing” for the night. Dad and Papa had let their worry get ahead of themselves even after Max explained that he was fine, he just wasn’t there and wouldn’t elaborate any further.
“Max?” He turned around looked up to see the room looking at him.
“I asked you why you wanted to get out of there so fast,” Alec said. He pulled his hand back off his shoulder, a little awkwardly.
“Shit! Yeah.” Max stood from the couch and rounded it to face everyone. “So, everyone at the Institute might be in danger? I’m not really sure. Nobody talks about him too much, but I know, like, the big things he did. And you said the Cup is there right now, right?”
“Who are you talking about? Why would anyone there be in danger?” Alec quickly asked. Max saw the process of him going into battle mode going on behind his eyes.
“What about him? He practically raised Isabelle, Jace, and I.”
Max swallowed and leaned back against the couch. He huffed out a sigh. “I-I’m not gunna answer that. I can’t.”
He stepped forward and took off his watch. Alec stood still, watching with his brows pulled together as Max took his wrist, buckled his watch on him, tapped on the screen, and looked up at him.
“Press that and tap on who you want to talk to. You should probably talk to yourself, but Papa is really busy and stressed right now with the negotiations, so maybe you should just ask Uncle Jace,” Max explained in a solemn voice. “I’m sure he’s all filled in by now.”
Max stepped back and walked into the kitchen, leaving the three men staring behind him in surprised silence.
Alec looked at Magnus and then to the other man in the room.
“Alexander, Ragnor Fell,” Magnus said with a motion to the man sitting at the table. “He’s my oldest friend.”
Alec nodded. “Alec Lightwood.”
“A Lightwood?” Ragnor asked with a smirk. He turned slowly to give Magnus a look.
Alec looked back down at the watch and taped on ‘Uncle Jace’ before he moved to sit on the couch to figure this whole situation out.
Ragnor came in the kitchen to find Max sitting on the counter with a mug of coffee in his hands and his head resting back against a cabinet with his eyes closed. He walked past him to the stove, picked up the kettle, filled it with water, set it back on the stove, and turned on the burner. When he looked back at Max, he was watching him.
“So,” Max said, glancing at his mug. “You’re Ragnor Fell, huh?”
“And you’re Max, Magnus’ son from the future.” Max nodded. “And you don’t seem to know me, so that doesn’t bode too well for my near-future.”
Max opened his mouth to retort, but his words caught in his throat. He looked back at Ragnor only to avert his eyes when they made eye contact. Ragnor nodded to himself.
He went about making his tea and pulled up a stool to the island and sat. Ragnor took a swig before he spoke again.
“Is Magnus happy? I mean to say, being a husband and a father, letting all that love into his life--is he happy?” Ragnor asked. “Was all the trouble I’m assuming he went through to get there worth it?”
“Um, I think so, yeah. I mean, I guess you’d have to ask him, but he and Papa seem really happy together.”
“Good. He deserves that.”
They stayed there in relatively comfortable silence sipping from their mugs. In the other room, Max faintly heard Alec talking, but he tried to ignore it. He held his mug up to his nose and focused on the smell, focusing him on the familiar comfort and warmth of it. Dad’s always so particular about his coffee brands…
Max took the moment to breathe and just be. Meeting his Uncle Max, facing Hodge, and also meeting Ragnor freaking Fell--he deserved some time to let his mind wander to better things, to rest from all the chaos one single day had managed to give him.
Thank you so much for reading. Please let me know what you think in the comments and kudos are greatly appreciated!
Also, feel free to come find me on tumblr: achilleanragnor. I'm always up for prompts or chatting!
Chapter 8: Somber Tones
Max isn't the only one feeling lost and overwhelmed by his current situation.
thank you to the sh heart and soul writers network for actually motivating me to work on this! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Maxi : te amo
Alec looked down at his watch and brushed his thumb over the message before sending one back: Yo tambien. How are you? Everything...alright?
Alec walked around his desk, pushed away the journal from the days of the war out of his sight, and plopped down in his chair. He leaned forward and rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. He’d been expecting this week to be stressful, but he had not been expecting this .
The negotiations with the New York districts were to start tonight, when the Night Children could join comfortably, there in the Institute. This wasn’t the first negotiation he’d been in--hell, Alec helped form and lead the first negotiations after the Clave was dismantled, but that didn’t mean it would be easy.
He’d just worked enough time into his morning schedule to spend some time with Max training. Max and Alec could both use time to work out some of their stress and after all the long days Alec’s had away from home, he wanted to spend some time with his son.
Having reread his personal accounts he kept for himself (Magnus always insisted it was a diary and nothing to be ashamed of), Alec couldn’t get his mind away from the ghosts of those days. Now, his son was living it all for himself--all that horror. But Alec knew no matter how bad it was for him when Jace was missing and Izzy was in danger he didn’t have to face the same terror downworlders did. Alec knew that Max, although he was smack in the start of everything going to hell, could face things far worse than Alec did.
“Hey, Pops?” Alec looked up to see Rafael in the doorway with his hand raised like he was about to knock on the door. “They’re ready for you downstairs.”
Alec nodded more to himself than to Rafa, stood up, and walked to the door. He straightened up his shoulders and clapped a hand on his son’s shoulder.
“Come here,” he whispered before Rafa leaned in and wrapped his arms around him in a hug. Alec bent down a little to bury his nose in Rafa’s hair and pressed a quick kiss. “How are you doing?”
“I’m better than you probably are.”
Alec smirked and pulled back to look at Rafa’s face. “Hey, we’ll get him back and make it though this, alright?”
Rafa nodded and pulled back. “You better head down. They can’t exactly start without you, but making them wait?” Alec ruffled his hair and stepped into the hallway past him.
“Keep me posted if you hear anything about Max, alright? I don’t care if you have to interpret. You know how to be discrete about it,” Alec turned and said.
“Sure thing, Papa,” Rafa replied. He watched his father walk down the hallway and take on his leader persona through a roll of his shoulders and his chin tilted up. The hard line between his brows stayed in place. “ Buena suerte !”
Alec walked into the Summit Hall with purpose and his head steady on his shoulders, though part of him was still upstairs in that damn journal. Another part of him that he could felt tugging his heart and his gut was straining to check his watch--see if Max replied with something...anything.
The chatter throughout the room slowly died down as he made his way past the groups of mingling people to the head of the table where Magnus was waiting for him, standing behind the seat to the right of the head chair.
He could see the strain in Magnus’ brow and his stance. To those around them, Magnus probably looked like his usual self: gorgeous and powerful; but Alec knew the tense line of his shoulders and that when Magnus’ features remained on the air of expressionless, he was attempting to hide what was going on in his thoughts.
Back during the war--before Rafael and Max and, hell, even Magnus--Alec never thought he would ever know another man like this. He’d sworn himself to a loveless, possibly scarring marriage to a woman as a gay man. And now? Now Alec was looking at a man he knew better than he knew himself, yet was still surprised by him. He was looking his partner in both love and parenthood.
Alec wanted to run into Magnus’ arms and ask him if Max was going to be alright--ask if they could fix this and keep him safe. Just anything to keep him from breaking knowing that their son was in danger far away from where they could protect him like they were supposed to...like he was supposed to.
“Shall we begin?” Alec asked the room at large when he reached his chair.
Magnus took hold of his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze before taking his own seat. The various groups around the hall dispersed as everyone took their designated places. Alec waited standing in front of the head chair for everyone to settle before he began.
“The second annual meeting of the New York District is now in session,” Alec said before taking his seat with Magnus on his right and Meliorn at his left.
Magnus snapped his fingers and with a languid motion out in front of him the table filled with documents in front of each seat.
Alec knew he had tapped on the ‘Uncle Jace’ contact when Max handed over the watch, but nothing happened. The screen went black. He leaned back against the cushions and pulled his brows together.
Alec looked down at the watch in his hands and turned it over. It didn't look too far off from current technology. He knew mundanes had digital watches connected to their phones to send messages and other things, so he didn't think this watch would be all that different.
Maybe it had to be latched to work? After a moment of fumbling with the clasp, he managed to get it on his wrist and held it up to examine it--figure out how to get the thing to work. Shouldn't be all that difficult, right? Alec had seen Max using it all day.
He pressed a finger to the black screen. It lit up to show a menu in Spanish. Before Alec could read what all the little icons were to find the contacts, the screen went black and white writing in the middle and that voice from earlier came from it.
Un mensaje de Papa , the voice chimed.
Alec hesitated, not knowing how to make the screen go back to the Home or Desktop or whatever it's called in the future. He tried pressing one of the buttons on the side.
Llamando a Papa , it chimed again at him.
He slammed the button again, disconnecting the call. Alec let out a sharp breath. After having to see his future self and how he talked to him...he didn't want to face himself again unless it was absolutely necessary. He scrubbed the back of his neck and pressed the screen again.
"Need any help with that, Alexander?" Magnus asked. He settled himself beside Alec on the couch with a drink in his hand.
"Is now really the time to be drinking?" Alec sighed.
Magnus curled a knee up and turned his whole torso towards him with one arm slung over the back of the cushions. "I do drink non alcoholic beverages and I have quite the tolerance."
Alec dropped his hand down to his lap and turned to face Magnus. "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap I just--" He let out a long sigh with his cheeks puffing out a little in the process. He lifted the watch back to his face and focused on figuring out how to contact his parabatai's future self. "I don't have the luxury of letting..."
"We're under the pressure of imminent danger and possible time restraints," Magnus offered. "I get it, and I'm here to help in any way I can." He gave Alec a soft smile. "That includes helping you figure out how to work a watch."
Alec looked at the ceiling with the apples of his cheeks lifted sky high--crinkling little rays into the skin around his eyes. Magnus had never seen Alec smile so openly. His own slipped from his face for Magnus to just look at Alec for a moment. He let himself notice the lines from worry faintly present though Alec was too young to have wrinkles, the way his lips framed his teeth in that bright smile.
Politics was never Jace’s purview. He was more than happy when Alec told him he didn’t have to take a seat on the New York council although it had been offered due to his success and show of leadership in the Mortal War and in the dismantling of the Clave and building of the new system.
Jace stood against the wall as he looked over the file everyone at the table were discussing and dissecting. He didn’t envy a single person sitting there. He knew every single Seelie, vampire, shadowhunter, werewolf, and so on would be there for hours going over every little word and phrase.
He pushed off the wall, set the file back down beside Magnus with a nod to Alec. He walked out of the Summit Hall. Spending his entire day listening to political banter sat very low on his list of priorities, especially when he’d spend the past week composing a new piece. The piano in the library called out to him.
Playing also helped Jace get out of his head--out of all those memories and toxic thoughts that he still fought after all these years, but it had gotten a little easier (Clary and the kids made sure of that). After Alec explained what had happened to Max, Jace had played so hard the pads of his fingers were sore, but he needed to calm down and work on this piece.
Alec’s birthday was only a few days away and he wasn’t putting it off any longer. Magnus would have his head if he just bought his parabatai. This year everyone decided Alec would be getting presents to be remembered and cherished--little slivers of all of them for him to appreciate for years. Things he could go back to when...well, most of them were already older than most shadowhunters were expected to live.
On his way through the Institute up to the library, Jace poked his head into the workroom to watch Clary teach the kids. All of their fingers were covered in different colored paints. On the table he could make out some of the runes the kids had been finger painting.
Clary’s hair was all piled up on top of her head with a few stray hairs stuck to her forehead with paint--probably from her rubbing an itch having forgotten about the paint on her hands, as usual. On her neck there was a little pink handprint from their daughter whose left hand (and arm) had pink paint dried all over it, over the iratze Jace remembers giving her all too well. Jace felt his heart press hard up into his throat. He can’t imagine how Alec and Magnus feel right now.
He closed the door silently and made his way to the library. Once on the bench, Jace rolled his shoulders back and opened the lid. He ran a finger gently over the keys and closed his eyes. His foot found its home hovering over the pedals by itself. Jace took in a deep breath and pressed the first key.
Maximillion Calling, a soft voice said over the somber tone of the piano.
Thank you soooo much for reading! It means the world to be. Please let me know what you think in the comments (and kudos are greatly appreciated)!
Feel free to come find me on tumblr: achilleanragnor. I'm always taking prompts and up for yelling about Shadowhunters and so many other fandoms. <3
Once he answered the call, Jace made his way to Alec's office. He knew his parabatai wouldn't mind and that no one would be going there for a while--not while Alec was hung up downstairs with the Council. Jace remembered the events that led up to the war, but he knew it would be better to read off the account instead of trust his memory. He wasn't surprised to find Alec's journal already on his desk among his preparatory work for the meeting.
Alec stood up and paced the length of the couch. Jace waited. He leaned back in Alec's desk chair and closed the journal. Alec opened his mouth to say something, but closed it again.
"No, no," Alec said firmly, accentuated by strong hand movements. . "H-hodge would never--he raised us!"
"I know, but he did," Jace sighed. He rubbed at his forehead. "The amount of animosity he built up over the years...I know how you’re feeling right now, but you have to push past it. He has a ring that he got off the forsworn that attacked you two," he explained as he flipped through Alec's journal, “He can contact Valentine with it.”
When Alec stopped pacing, he nodded and gripped the back of the couch.
"So, what do we do? Any attempt to get everyone away from him would raise suspicion. From what I saw with Max, he’s probably already on edge," Alec spoke to the room.
"Wait, what thing with Max?" Jace asked with a jolt forward from his lounging position in the high back chair. "Hodge met Max? What happened? Is Max okay? Where is he?"
Magnus held a hand out to stop him from rambling off questions. "He's fine, just rather overwhelmed. He's in the other room with Ragnor."
"Ragnor?" Jace asked. Alec and Magnus watched his expression pale, his jaw tighten, and his adam's apple bob when he swallowed hard. "Uh, okay. Could you get Max? I have to talk to him."
Alec opened his mouth, but Magnus beat him to speaking. "What about Ragnor?"
Jace pressed his lips together and looked to the bookshelf beside him, clearly thinking of something to say.
"What aren't you telling me about Ragnor?" Magnus insisted.
Jace tucked his hair back behind his ear. "So, you said you were trying to find a way to wake Jocelyn before Max showed up?" Alec nodded. "Well, Magnus, Clary, and I went to Ragnor's hideout because we thought he was the one that provided her with the potion that put her under--which turned out to be true. Hodge...he informed Valentine where we were going and...Ragnor was killed right after we got there."
Jace looked up from the spot he started at on Alec's desk when he spoke. He met eyes with Magnus, who, instead of looking like the broken man Jace still remembers holding onto Ragnor as he died (like Jace had been expecting to see), he looked murderous.
"Thank you for informing me of this," Magnus said in an even tone. He sat back against the cushions and took a long sip from his tumbler. "I may have an idea of how to...handle this Starkweather situation."
Alec raised an eyebrow at him, expecting him to continue.
"Oh no," Jace said. "I know the kind of ideas you come up with."
"Then I take it you know they're always rather effective," Magnus retorted.
"If by effective you mean terrifying and possibly illegal--"
Alec threw his hands out. “We don’t have time for this. Izzy, Jace, and Max are in danger right now.” Jace’s eyebrows shot up. Alec turned to Magnus. “What’s your idea?”
“I thought you said Max was there with you guys?” Jace quickly asked.
“As in Max, our brother,” Alec huffed out. The clench of his jaw were evident even through the video quality on their end. “Why do they even have the same name? It’s just confusing.”
Jace blinked a few times and breathed even and steady through his nose. His eyes didn’t look like they were focused on anything in front of him. He looked like he was seeing his memories as faded ghosts come to life in the distance.
“Anyway,” Alec continued when Jace didn’t give him any semblance of a response. “What is this plan? We don’t have a lot of time.”
“Uh, you guys figure everything out,” Jace said through the tightness in his throat. “I...gotta get back to the meeting. Tell Max…” he trailed off before swallowing. “Tell him to give me a call.”
He tapped his watch and the image of Alec and Magnus disappeared. Jace had already spent his day being followed by ghosts, but he hadn’t let himself think of...He pulled at his hair in an attempt to ground himself when his vision blurred with tears. He shoved the journal away from himself, and shoved the chair away from the desk. He stormed out of the room back on his way to the library. No matter how much his hands hurt or whatever else was going on, Jace was going to finish this piece for Alec. He had to.
Magnus stopped when he got to the doorway of the kitchen. His future son and supposed-to-be-dead oldest friend sat with mugs forgotten beside them. They were focused on their hands which held out between them, with one palm pointed upwards and the other downwards with their palms facing the other’s as if they were playing patty cake.
It was a game Magnus had seen young warlocks use to help their control and also have a bit of fun. He himself had played it with a few budding warlocks in his years, or with Ragnor when they both got a little too drunk and Cat wouldn’t let them get up to mischief. .
In between their hands were two spheres of energy. The point was to push the sphere you conjured towards the other person’s palm while pushing away the one they created. Ragnor and Max kept eye contact. As Magnus watched, he could see the strain Max was putting forth, but neither of the balls moved. Ragnor was toying with him.
Magnus noted how much more at ease Max looked than when he had just gotten back from the Institute. He reminded himself that this was the right choice. There was no need to involve the poor, overwhelmed boy in dangerous things, if they could be avoided.
Usually, Magnus wanted to at least be honest with the people under his care about what was happening, but all of this had only been in a single day. He wanted Max to have the longest possible stretch of relaxation or distraction as he could.
“Am I interrupting?” Both of the balls flew to Max’s palms where they melted away in smoke. He rubbed them out gently on his linen pants to scrub away the tickling feeling.
“He nearly had it! You made him lose concentration,” Ragnor chided. He unfolded himself from his hunched position and picked up his lukewarm tea.
“Oh, I’m sure,” Magnus said with a tight, close lipped smile. “Alec and I are going out for a moment. We need to go back to the Institute, which may not be the best place for you. Would you mind keeping each other company?”
Max pulled his eyebrows down in a questioning glare, but didn’t comment. Ragnor said he would love to spend time with the boy. Max’s expression softened at that.
“How’d that talk go?” Max asked with a nod at his watch in Magnus’ hand.
He took a moment to compile a response. “It was illuminating and...jarring. We’re figuring things out, don’t worry.” Magnus handed Max back his watch before turning back out of the room. “Oh, Jace wanted you to give him a call when you get a chance, though he did say he was heading back into a meeting.”
Magnus walked back into the living room, leaving the two alone again to their game and their tea. Alec was tapping something out on his phone. His shoulders were hunched in. He looked just as wholly shaken as when Magnus had left him to prepare himself for their plan.
“Are you sure you’re up for this?” Magnus asked, voice soft as if he were concerned the wrong tone would cause irreparable damage to the control Alec was holding onto.
Alec set his shoulders back after he pocketed his phone. He looked Magnus in the eyes and nodded. Magnus witnessed Alec transform from a young adult worried and stressed about his family to a soldier ready to do what was necessary.
“Of course. You ready for this?” Alec asked as an afterthought.
Magnus snapped his fingers and swished a portal into existence behind Alec.
“Of course,” he mimicked. Before they stepped through the portal, Alec took his hand in his and squeezed. Magnus returned the pressure and nodded. They let their hands fall back down to their sides and stepped into the vortex of colors together.
“So,” Max drew out into multiple syllables, “they’re totally going on some big mission about all this.”
Ragnor nodded. “Almost certainly. Though, if they don’t believe they need our assistance that just makes it more likely that we’ll be the ones licking the wounds afterward.”
Max laughed. “Dad always said how prickly you were, but I wasn’t expecting dark humor and cynicism. Guess I should have, but I’m glad you’re at least honest with me.”
Ragnor snapped his fingers over Max’s mug, heating the drink back up, and handed it over to him.
“Did Magnus ever tell you how he acquired this cup?” Ragnor asked before his took another sip of his tea. Max shook his head with a grin and settled in for a story. “Well, I think it was around the 1920s. We were in Paris…”
They spent two hours trading back and forth stories and tales over several cups of tea. When they paused after a laughing fit, Max told him about Rafa and Lucy trying to figure out if they could become parabatai, which prompted Ragnor asking about his name.
“Is his name…”
Max swallowed a gulp of room temperature tea and nodded stiffly. “Yeah, uh, my brother’s name is Rafael Santiago Lightwood-Bane, but with an ‘f’. Dad always adds that when people ask. We call him Rafe or Rafa for short,” Max explained, “We were both named after people that died during the war.”
“So, Raphael died and Max was…,” Ragnor trailed off in a question.
“He was or, well, is Alec’s little brother. He was nine when he was killed. He’s nine now, I guess.” Max shifted in his seat. His left hand found the laces on his sandal and worried them between his thumb and forefinger. “I met him earlier,” Max continued in a whisper--”I met him. He’s so young and Alec and Tia, Izzy, were just beaming when they saw him. They love him so much and he’s--”
Max stopped when he saw a flash of green in front of him. Ragnor was holding out his pocket square to him. He reached up to feel the cool, wet trails his tears left on his cheeks. He hadn’t realized he’d started crying.
By the time Max got around to explaining the abolishment the Clave and working to build an all-inclusive shadow world justice system, a portal snapped open in the living room. They both jumped on their feet.
They were expecting Magnus and Alec, and maybe even more people. It’s not like the details of what they were off doing had been explained.
“Tessa?” Ragnor asked. “What are you doing here”
She nodded and closed her portal. “Ragnor. I wasn’t expecting you here. Where’s Magnus?”
“He went off with Alec somewhere,” Max said. “I’m Max, by the way.”
Tessa’s expression hardened. She gave him a nod with a tight smile. “And I’m Tessa Gray, by the way. So, you’re the time traveler?”
Max gave a sheepish smile. “I guess so. Huh, never thought that’s something I’d be called. Another thing for the resume, right? Warlock, Shadowhunter, jokester, and time traveller!”
“Warlock and Shadowhunter? Interesting,” She commented with her lip curving into a curious smile, but the tightness from before still showed through her expression. “Would you mind if I spoke with Ragnor for a moment?”
He and Max exchanged a glance before Ragnor led her into Magnus’ work room. Max couldn’t help but feel cut out of the loop yet again. He took a deep breath and flopped down on the couch. Methodically, he unlaced his sandals at an odd angle, refusing to sit up to slip them off properly.
Not everything is about you. Quit being so paranoid. Just chill.
Max thumbed at the band of his watch and considered calling his uncle. Jace would usually take any excuse to leave meetings. He could help him get a little reprieve, but Max didn’t know if the meeting was even still going on. Was the time there the same as the time here? Before he could make a decision, his eyes slid closed and he fell asleep.
Thank you soooo much for reading! It means the world to be. Please let me know what you think in the comments (and kudos are greatly appreciated)!
Feel free to come find me on tumblr: achilleanragnor. I'm always taking prompts and up for yelling about Shadowhunters and so many other fandoms. <3
Chapter 10: Tick Tock, People
Good things come to those who wait, but none of these folks have time for that. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Thank you so much for your patience with inconsistent updates of this story. My muse is bigger than the time and motivation I have to write.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“There’s no reason to treat Max so poorly. You don’t even know the child, and I might dare said you’d even like him if you did get to know him,” Ragnor whispered to her. “Which you may want to do considering who he is.”
Who he is indeed,” she whispered back and her head minutely at him and stepped past him into Magnus’ workroom.
“Why you’re so worked up?” Ragnor asked when he slid the doors closed. “You come in here clearly agitated, but can’t explain why in front of the poor boy who’s already
She raised her arms and sent out a shimmering pulse, insuring they won’t be overheard. “Don’t patronize me. When you understand, you’ll be worried too. More than just worried I’d hope, anyway.”
Ragnor took a seat and motioned for Tessa to do the same, but she scoffs at him and began to pace instead. He crossed his legs and gestured for her to proceed.
“Magnus came to me earlier today asking if I knew anything that could possibly lead to events such as these--both relating to the time travelling and the boy’s parentage,” Tessa emphasized. “Now, to our collective knowledge, no person has ever travelled in time.”
“Which we both know doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Two hundred years ago, teleportation seemed impossible, and then we witnessed the creation of the portal,” Ragnor interjected.
Max looked up to the sky to see the dark mist rising up higher. The once blue sky full of puffy clouds nearly resembled gloomy grey of ash-smeared skin. He was standing in the same place he was before, yet his family was nowhere to be seen. He spun around again and again, making himself sick trying to see something besides the smoke that furled and unfurled around him.
“You’d better hurry, Maxie. Time isn’t on your side.”
“Hey, Hodge,” Isabelle greeted when she stepped into the weapons room.
He turned around with a sarif blade in hand, and smiled at her. “Long time no see,” Hodge said before he turned back around to inspect the blades recently used in training to ensure they didn’t need any upkeep before being put away.
She stepped up beside him and picked up a blade to inspect. “Yeah, things have been pretty crazy lately. SInce Clary got here and…”
“I’m sorry you had to find out about your parents the way you did. I wish I could have told you sooner, but--” he stopped in a solemn tone with a quick, dismissive gesture to the Circle rune on his neck. “I, I understand if you trust me less.”
“Hodge,” Isabelle started with the word dripping concern and nearly pity. She put her hand on his arm, “You raised us, not them. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know how we would have gotten through. We see you as our uncle, no matter your past.”
He placed his hand over Isabelle’s and gave a soft squeeze. They smiled at each other for a moment. Isabelle watched as the tears pooled along his waterline. He nodded and turned back to his work.
They inspected the weapons and put them away, moving around each other easily from the years of working in tandem together. Before Isabelle was permitted to begin her physical training, she’d become Hodge’s shadow and helped him after the lessons were done for the day. As she grew and began learning how to use the weapons, she still spent extra time with Hodge absorbing all the know-how she could about the various weapons.
Hodge had always appreciated her company and kindness. The only Shadowhunters to treat him as another person, and not just a traitor, were Isabelle, Alec, and Jace. He’d thought of them each as his family for nearly their entire lives.
After the final mace was set into its place, Hodge closed the weapons cabinet and motioned for the door. Isabelle smiled at him and turned to leave, but Hodge caught her arm.
“I can tell you’re holding something back, Isabelle. You know I admire your honesty and tenacity. When did you start holding your tongue with me?”
“Hello? Who said that?” Max called out.
He squinted in an attempt to peer through the thick smoke billowing around him, but it seemed to grow thicker the longer he tried.
“You know who I am, Max. I just don’t think you’re ready to face that,” a different voice answered.
Max’s eyes grew large in fear as his bones and muscles chilled and frozen in place. The crunch of charcoal bits behind him grew closed as something made its way towards him. He had never felt so helpless in all his life. He tried to open his mouth, to snap a spark to his fingers, but his body wouldn’t listen to any of his internal pleas to just do something, anything!
“I wish we could have met under more appealing circumstances, my dear boy,” whatever was behind him said. The crunch under its footsteps stopped directly behind Max. “But it’s about time we properly met.”
Max wished he could have screwed his eyes shut as the figure slinked into his peripheral vision. It gently grabbed Max’s arm, pulling him towards it. The smoke rushed forward and engulfed Max. It filled his lungs with the weight of some gelatinous goo while it left the taste of ash in his mouth.
He couldn’t breathe or move, but he could still think. He screamed within his mind with searing words to expel the smoke from his body. Max felt the laugh of this creature all around him as he fought it with every fiber of his will.
“If that’s how it’s going to be, then. Just wait. Soon you’ll beg me to come to you again.”
Max heaved in a stuttered breath and fell backwards from the strain of fighting. He fell back into the ash, but never felt himself hit the ground.
“Thank you for coming up here with me,” Isabelle said as she unlocked the door to Alec’s office. “Since, well, pretty much since Clary arrived it’s been hard not to notice all the eyes and ears around this place.”
“Privacy is a hard and precious thing to come by here,” Hodge mused as they entered the office and closed the door behind themselves. “Are you sure Alec won’t mind--”
Isabelle waved his thought away with a quick, dismissive hand. “Don’t worry. He’s off dealing with the warlock that was here earlier. He has his hands full.”
“I’d suppose so with his duties on top of a wedding to plan,” Hodge said as he circled around to the chair behind Alec’s desk. He rested his forearms on the top of it and hung his head for a brief moment. “What is it you needed to get off your chest?” He looked up at her with a solemn brow. “I know it’s not your brother.”
She dropped her shoulders with the weight of the heavy sigh she let out before flopping onto the couch. “There’s so much that I just--” She cut herself off to clear her throat. Hodge rounded the desk and sat down softly beside her.
“What is it?”
“With my parents and how they are, with Alec throwing his life away on this ridiculous marriage, and Jace running off doing what everyone has told him clearly not to…” she rambled on. Isabelle reached out to hold Hodge’s hands with her own. He waited while she composed her thoughts. “The years you’ve spent with us--as our family…”
Isabelle twisted her wrists. The unfamiliar bracelet she’d been wearing since she first came into the training room melted off of her and solidified around Hodge’s wrists--binding them together. Automatically, he pulled against the metal hoping for some sort of weakness, but the more he fought it, the tighter it felt.
Isabelle stood up slowly and walked over to the desk. She leaned back against it, crossed her legs, and rested her hands on the surface. If he were twenty years younger, Hodge would be convinced the woman in front of him was Maryse Lightwood from the powerful glare to the ease of her calculated movements.
“How could you betray us?” Isabelle asked sternly. Her eyes were cold and bore through him.
“And more importantly,” Isabelle went on, “how are you communicating with Valentine Morgenstern?”
Hodge’s jaw clamped shut before the door creaked open to show Magnus with magic disappearing around his finger tips with Alec behind him.
“She won’t ask again,” Magnus informed him as he stepped in the room.
Alec closed the door behind them and locked it. Magnus flicked up a hand. The walls of the room shimmered and pulsed with a light gold before it dissipated.
“Now no one will hear you aside from us. I suggest you answered me before we have reason to test Magnus’ soundproofing with your help.”
“Yes, apparently Max is both Shadowhunter and Warlock, but not in the same way as you. Somehow, which he hasn’t explained to my knowledge, he is the biological son of both Alec Lightwood and our dear Magnus. I’m sure if you asked the boy, he’d be willing to explain, or at least call someone on that watch of his that can explain how this happened,” Ragnor spoke in a soft tone.
The last thing he wanted was anyone getting too hasty and jump to conclusions. In the other room, he knew there was a mere child finally getting some much deserved rest after previously unfathomable stress.
“Ragnor,” Tessa said exacerbated, “this isn’t about him being a poor innocent child. You know better than most that I’d never put a child in such a situation as this. You have to see reason with this. Max is Magnus’ child, which means he shares Magnus’ heritage.”
He stood from his chair, but before he could speak, Tessa continued. “None of us can help where we come from. But that boy out there has come here under incredibly suspicious circumstances and has easily gained the trust of many. Does that not concern you?”
He turned away from her and crossed his arms, attention focused on the lampshade as he spoke, “I’ve spent time with him. I’ve talked to him. I don’t believe he meant to come here or that he means any harm. Do you no longer trust my judgment?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, Ragnor. You know that.”
Tessa sighed and took Ragnor’s seat. She leaned back slowly and waited for him to turn to her again. “While I was looking for anything that could relate to time travel in the Labyrinth, do you know what I was reminded of? There is only a single known creature that can manipulate time.”
“Angels,” Ragnor supplied. “Though not a one has been seen or heard from for hundreds of years.”
“Maybe not any that are still known to be Angels, but I can think of one that has all abilities, just goes by a different moniker now,” Tessa explained slowly, the gravity of her words dripping off her tongue. “A fallen angel, Ragnor.”
He took his time walking around her to the other chair, seated himself, and leaned forward the his fingers steepled. A long sigh forced itself from him as he deflated and held his face in his hands. “If this is true--if…I just hoped this day would never come.”
“Are you sure that Max has no idea how he got here?” Tessa asked barely above a whisper.
“He has no idea. From what I can see he’s lost in so many senses of the word. He’s out of his time with these ghosts of his family in the nightmare of the war they fought it.”
They let the solemn words sink into the atmosphere and settle on their skin in silence. Due to Tessa’s charm, they couldn’t hear the faint beeping coming from Max’s watch on the coffee table a few feet from where he slept.
Beep, beep, beep. A low battery warning flashed on the screen before it powered down, cutting Max off from his life, his home, his family just as the smoke that engulfed him in his dreams.
Thank you so much for reading! Please let me know what you think about what's happened so far and your ideas for where it could be going in the comment. Kudos and comments are what keep me going and are greatly appreciated. Feel free to come find me on tumblr: achilleanragnor! I'm always up for new prompts and ranting!
Chapter 11: Emotions are Distractions
Jace and Alec both need to face how they've not dealing with what's happening, but damn are they stubborn.
This chapter focuses around Clace and Malec. Next update will be more around Max. Hope you enjoy!
EDIT: Hey! So, I just signed up for a Work-In-Progress Big Bang to try and finish this puppy off in one fell swoop! Posting for that event begins in July, so don't expected anything knew here until then. Buuuuuut once my posting date hits, you'll have so many new chapters (and hopefully a finished storrryyyyy! WoohOOOOO!!!!)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jace had been shaken ever since they saw Clary’s future self and their possibly future child in her arms. With each step closer to his room on their way through the winding hallways of the Institute, the more Jace fell apart. Jace’s eyes looked as if he was seeing something far away.
Clary gently closes the door behind them, shutting them off from the bustling of the Institute for a small reprieve from today’s insane brand of stress. She waited for a moment to think of how to tackle the conversation she’s sure Jace brought them up here to work out before she turned around.
Last she knew, Jace had been pacing back along his bed, but when she turned around, she sucked in a quick breath--surprised. Instead of across the room, Jace stood not a foot from her with shaking hands barely lifted from his sides, as if he was resisting reaching out to her.
“Jace?” she asked, hesitant. She took one of his hands in hers and cupped the base of his neck with the other. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
He opened his mouth as is to respond, but snapped it shut when his chin began to tremble. He squeezed his eyes shut and took in an uneasy gulp of air.
Clary smiled at him softly. She understood his confusion and pain just by the look on his face after all that’s happened. He doesn’t resist when she pulled him to her in a gentle embrace as she wrapped a hand around the back of his neck and hugged him close. After a beat, Jace snaked his hands around Clary’s middle and bowed his head until it rested on her shoulder. She gripped him a little tighter when the first quake of Jace’s shoulders shook them both. A small, childish noise shuddered through Jace’s throat.
“Shh, shh, shh,” she soothed him, rubbing his back a little.
It took him a few moments to compose himself. He let her ministrations reach him in a way he hasn’t let anything reach him in nearly a month--down to his core. The longer it went on, the harder it got to swallow down the knot of hurt within himself like he’d been doing for so long now. He cleared his throat and leaned back out of her grasp, turning away from her to wipe away the wetness on his cheeks.
Clary followed, unsure of what to do, as Jace made his way to his dark, silken bed and thunked onto it with a little bounce from the force, seemingly out of place in the tense air of the room.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I--” he cleared his throat again and looked up to meet her eyes with more of a grimace that a smirk. “Didn’t think I’d…”
Clary sat down beside him gingerly and slid a hand on his knee.
“I’m here if you need someone to listen. After the past few weeks, I understand being overwhelmed,” she said. He put his head in his hands while he pondered what to say.
“Emotions are distractions,” he reminded her in an attempt to push past this and get to the point about what to do about them. This conversation was never supposed to be about him and his feelings. He cursed internally as he sniffled.
“Don’t you even try to pull that crap with me, right now. You’re a person. You have emotions. It’s how things work. They aren’t a weakness; they can help you,” she said with a harumph. From her glare he could stop peeking between his fingers, Jace could tell arguing was a moot point. After a long sigh, he gave in.
“A month ago,” he began with his face still buried in his hands, “I was Alec, Izzy, and Max’s brother--a Lightwood. We were fighting demons and getting take-out, waiting for the Accords to go through so we could get back to our normal schedules with Maryse and Robert. Then, I wasn’t even a Wayland anymore, I was a Morgenstern--I was your brother. I was trying to come to terms with that…”
Jace released a hand from his face to shakily place it over Clary’s. She opened her mouth to speak, but Jace continued on before she could put her thought into words.
“Now? I’m your future husband and a dad? If that’s true, I have no idea who I am now. Guess I get how you’ve felt learning about the Shadow World and your mom and everything a little better now.”
Clary shot him a sad smile and reached up to tuck a streak of blond hair that had fallen over his face when he turned to finally look at her with red, swollen eyes. That was the first time since meeting him that she’d seen Jace look so small and vulnerable.
“I know how it feels to lose sight of yourself,” she told him. “The one thing I’ve realized after all this craziness is that, no matter what I am or who my father is, I’m still Clary Fray: some mundie from Brooklyn that wanted to go to art school while being the sole groupie to her best friend’s band.”
Jace may have rolled his eyes at the mention of Simon, but from his smile Clary could tell he heard what she was getting at.
“At the end of the day, you are Jace: a Lightwood, a brother, Shadowhunter with a bit of an ego, and a parabatai to Alec. None of that’s gone; there’s just more to add to the definition of you.”
Jace nodded, more to himself that to her.
“I’m Jace, the guy with no idea what he’s doing that goes crying to his future wife instead of helping his parabatai in his own time of confusion. You hear he cut things off with Lydia? Christ, he has a kid now and he outed himself, kinda. You’re giving me too much credit. In the past few weeks, all I’ve proved is that I’m selfish and self-destructive. Why can’t you see that?”
Magnus stepped out of the room with Alec on his heels--both happy for a small reprieve from the interrogation. Isabelle could handle it while Alec went to inform Lydia of all they’ve learned while Magnus checked in with Ragnor about Max. Once the door clicked shut behind him, Alec seemed to deflate like a child’s birthday balloon not tied quickly enough after pumping it full.
“How are you holding up?” Magnus asked.
Alec shrugged. “Fine. We might finally have the upper hand against Valentine. This could be our big break in this war.”
Magnus took a small, slow step closer to Alec with eyebrows drawn together ever so slightly. “That wasn’t what I was talking about.”
“I can’t afford to worry about my emotions right now, They’re a distraction. I have work to do,” Alec said tersely. “I’m off to get Lydia. Let me know how Max is doing.”
He watched Alec walk down the hall from whence they came with tense determination. His taut shoulders held more than just the weight of his position, Magnus knew. Through all the Shadowhunters he’s known over the centuries, avoiding their emotions only ever hindered them in the long run. He really wished they’d let that old adage die out.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket and leaned against the wainscoting while he waited for it to turn back on.
Ba-ding! Ba-ding! Ba-ding! Ba-d… Notifications flooded in. With fast fingers, he swiped to his messages. Several texts from both Ragnor and Tessa awaited him. Cold fear crept into his veins as he read through Tessa’s explanation of her research and what every avenue she took lead her to: angels.
You have your father’s eyes...my grandfather’s eyes. Max’s words echoed in Magnus head as he stood, frozen, staring at his phone screen. It couldn’t be. For someone to raise him it would take...
“Alec!” Magnus yelled as he ran after him.
“You captured our weapons training instructor--one who can’t even leave the grounds--in your office to interrogate on the claims of some warlock child you won’t even give me the name of or where he is now?” Lydia questioned Alec, bewildered by his actions. She took in a deep breathe and rounded her desk to face Alec better. The lines of her face smoothed out before she spoke again. “Alec, I think you need to take the day. Something is clearly messing with your judgement. First, you come to me to call off the wedding after going missing for most the day under odd circumstances with a warlock child?”
Alec knew how this all looked, but that didn’t matter. “Just go and talk to him. He has a way to communicate with Valentine and Hodge knows where the ship is. This information could give us the upper hand--maybe even end all of this here and now. Before you make any decisions about me, just go talk to him.”
“I’ll go, but you need to go get some rest. I don’t want you doing anything but sleeping...that’s an order,” she said in a voice too tender to seem like one giving any orders. “We’ll discuss this further after you’ve got a clear head again.”
They both stood when a hard wrapping came from the door.
“You may enter.”
Magnus stepped in quickly only to pause when he noticed the tense air of the room. “I just needed to speak with Alexander for a moment. Hope I’m not interrupting.” In truth, he needed to interrupt and do anything to get Alec to understand the gravity of the situation, but didn’t want Lydia being added to their problems in the meanwhile.
“I was just leaving,” Lydia replied with a tight, uncomfortable smile. “Perhaps you could walk Alec to his room and discuss whatever seems to be so urgent, unless it’s something urgent enough that the Head of this Institute should be informed.”
“Not to worry, it’s nothing so serious,” Magnus waved off her concern easily.
He opened the door to the office and ushered them out into the hall. Lydia didn’t look convinced, but she left without comment, though Alec didn’t miss the stern look she shot him. He couldn’t blame her; this all looked pretty bad when you don’t have all the details.
“What’s going on?” Alec asked once Lydia was likely out of earshot.
“Tessa Grey, a friend of mine, has been doing some research in the Labyrinth, trying to gleam some information about what could create time travel and she found the only creature known to affect time,” Magnus explained gravely.
Alec waited for him to continue, anxious about the seriousness in his voice.
“Angels,” Magnus whispered.
“Okay? What’s so bad about angels? Aren’t they supposed to be creature of good?” Alec asked. This didn’t add up with how scared Magnus seemed.
Magnus shook his head to himself. “Angels are good, but their brethren in Edom--”
“Wait,” Alec said, blinking fast and putting out a hand to stop Magnus. “Are you suggesting fallen angels have an interest in Max...in us? Don’t they have bigger things to worry about that us like running their realm?”
“I don’t have time to explain now,” Magnus shot out fast as he pocketed his phone and opened a portal in front of them. “We have to go strengthen my wards and make sure Max is safe. After that, we can continue this conversation.”
Alec took a step back from the portal and shook his head. “I have orders to rest before debriefing with Lydia. And who knows what orders I’ll get once she sees Hodge for the traitor he is! No, I-I can’t leave.”
“Whatever Starkweather has to say won’t matter if we don’t help Max,” Magnus argued, but by his downward drawn shoulders and fallen expression, Magnus already saw and understood Alec was an immovable object when it came to orders. “Fine. You do your duties, Shadowhunter. I’ll go protect our son and the whole world while I’m at it. Maybe I’ll even have time for a cocktail and steak dinner.”
In a flourish, Magnus fell back into his portal with a loathsome smirk painted across his lips. Alec’s heart fell in his chest, but he still walked past the still opened portal--a brief invitation for Alec to change his mind--towards the sleeping quarters.
This is no time for personal matters , Alec thought to himself. It’s about the greater good.
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