“Alec. A word. Now.”
Izzy pulls him around the corner and into a small alcove in the wall. She grimaces, folding her arms across her chest.
“Mom is sending you on a kill mission.”
Surprisingly, these words are not the strangest thing he’s heard. In fact, it barely makes the top ten.
Alec sighs. “It was bound to happen soon.”
Sure, it’s odd for your younger sister to announce your parents’ plans to encourage you to take a life. If you're an ordinary person, that is. But Alec definitely isn't, and neither is Isabelle; or their family.
In fact, it’s the kind of topic that makes the dinner table.
Not that we even eat dinner together, Alec thinks with a scoff.
But Izzy’s words – or warning – don't hit him too hard. After all, he's trained for this.
If someone announced to any of the Lightwoods that they had three bombs to disassemble in three minutes, their only response would be, “I can do it in two.”
Really, he should be pleased. Or proud.
This is his first opportunity to live up to the honourable Lightwood name. To prove to The Clave that he can be reliable, loyal and never question the tasks thrown at him.
Working for The Clave has rather forcefully opened Alec’s eyes. Being trained since birth to fight, assemble weapons, track, locate, and to survive under torture means that sentences like this one are just another part of life. His life.
Still, a small stab of anxiety prickles his stomach.
Alec’s first kill mission.
He wishes he has it in him to smile at his sister - whose expression is a grimace of fear and worry. He wants nothing more than to convince Isabelle that the kill won’t affect him too much. And perhaps it won’t.
But it's one thing to capture the bad guys. It's another to assassinate them.
And that’s what it is. Whoever they are, and whatever horrific crimes they’ve committed, Alec knows it's still that; murder. Good, old-fashioned assassinating. Robbing someone of their life as if he were a god.
There's a dangerous power in holding a gun, in strapping yourself into a bulletproof vest and getting ready. It makes you feel invincible. As if you're above everyone else.
How his mother would hate to see him hesitate. To consider their jobs as anything more than that. The emotional impact of the deed is to always come last. And by last, that means never. The Clave are strict in their laws. If you step outside the line, you're often cast aside. And without their protection, and with a crap load of bad people holding grudges against you, those who leave are normally pretty screwed.
He can do this. A hit kill. Surely the first would be the hardest.
If he can do this, and prove to his parents and The Clave that he's an exceptional, loyal soldier – and killer – then Alec hopes the pressure will ease.
Still, the legacy that his parents have built hovers over Alec like a timer waiting to explode. The legendary Maryse and Robert Lightwood; the pair with the highest number of kills. And lowest number of complaints.
As soon as Alec rounds the corner - heading towards his parents’ office - he feels the weight dragging at his heels.
An even more dangerous thought whispers to him then;
What if he could escape? What if he just abandoned everything and ran away from The Clave, to live a life free from killing and danger and-
No. He cuts himself off. This life is the only thing he knows. His family mean more to him than his own freedom.
Alec thinks of Izzy. Bright, bold and deadly Isabelle; destined for being the first assassin to complete her kills in six inch stilettos. She's born for this. She has no trouble in shutting off the emotional parts of her brain. In fact, it's the opposite. She channels it into her fights; her passion being her greatest asset, despite their mother, Maryse, trying her best to scold it out of her.
But behind Izzy’s calculations and intelligence is a whirlwind of beautiful chaos. She became a blur during fights, ducking and lunging and bringing down her opponents without care.
Alec, on the other hand, turns everything off. He forces his logic to overwhelm every other sense; to control him. To block out the sunlight desperate to get in.
After all, there's no place for the light. Not in a world filled with more bloodshed that smiles. Where agents are raised to withstand torture before they've even learnt to tie their own shoelaces.
When he reaches a foreboding black door, Alec pauses.
The second he steps inside will spark a change he can't come back from. He will be sent to kill someone; to take away their life forever and live with that.
Would he feel guilty? Or worse, pleasure?
Alec isn't sure which one seems worse, and so he knocks once on the door and waits for a reply.
“Come in, agent.”
Alec takes a quick breath and walks in, keeping a calm pace as he walks to stand just before the desk chair. He plants his feet firmly in the floor, squares his shoulders, preparing. He looks up then, and is glad that he didn’t beforehand. Otherwise he might’ve turned and fled from the room and found the nearest trash can to throw up into.
Alec wasn’t just staring at his mom, and boss.
He was looking into the sharp eyes of not one, but six other Clave agents. Some are from this Institute, and other are unrecognisable.
He recognises one, in the form of his old friend, Lydia Branwell. They'd been trained in the same classrooms, and grown up reciting Morse code together. But that was then. They're both fully trained agents now.
Greeting each other with a hug didn’t seem too appropriate to Alec, so he simply nodded.
The other five observers are dressed in dark suits and stern expressions, standing behind his mother’s desk. She gestures for Alec to take a seat.
His mind races. Why are there so many envoys here from The Clave to oversee his assignment? Is he being watched by them? Are his loyalties already being questioned-
“Thank you for coming,” Maryse says briskly. “These are envoys from the Los Angeles Institute. This is Alec Lightwood.” Her introductions over, she places a file in front of Alec. “This is your given assignment. A kill hit.”
Though he is prepared by Isabelle's words, Alec still feels his heart begin to race. He keeps his lips pressed together, praying they wouldn’t shake. He cannot afford to hesitate in front of so many important people.
Maryse continued. “It has come to The Clave’s attention that recently, someone decided to foolishly steal from Valentine Morgenstern.”
Alec notices how the agents tense up at the name. Alec does too.
He’s heard so many stories about the legendary crime family, the Morgensterns. Run by their slippery leader, Valentine, and his violent, bloodthirsty son, Jonathan, the Morgensterns have been the cause of many drug-related deaths across the whole of America. In the recent years, new drugs have slipped into the markets, and The Clave has failed to locate the ever-moving group. The family took underground business to a whole new, deadly level.
And now someone has stolen from them. Somehow.
Alec frowns. “Who is my target?”
Surely they didn’t want him to track and kill Valentine? The man who was like smoke; impossible to see, hear or grasp. They would be asking Alec to go on an impossible mission.
Maryse shakes her head. She nods to the file on the desk, and waits for Alec to turn the page.
Held in by a small paperclip is a blurry photograph of a young man. He is perhaps close to Alec’s age, a little older - perhaps early thirties - and is shown with a streak of coloured hair, sharp angles and dark eyes. He is pictured ducking into a car, a messenger bag clutched tightly to his chest.
A thick band of red spells out:
MAGNUS BANE; CODE RED
Code red: kill and retrieve.
“This is the culprit. Magnus Bane. He’s not on any records. Not any of ours,” Maryse snarls, and Alec can see how much it pains The Clave to admit defeat. This man has escaped even their knowledge.
“Who does he work for?”
Maryse’s voice drips with disdain. “From what The Clave has worked out, he’s an assassin who answers to no one. He doesn’t work for any company. He’s been hired by different governments around the world, hindering serial killers and robbers alike. He’s…freelance.” Maryse’s lips curl at the world, and he can only imagine how disgusted she is by the thought of having no connections; no loyalty, no family.
Alec, on the other hand, is horrified by how compelling that sounds. What would it be like to choose your missions? To use your skills in whatever way you wanted to?
His mother is still waiting for a response.
Alec nods briskly. “You want me to kill the assassin? This…Bane person?”
“Yes. Also,” She clicks a button and an image appears on the screen. A strange looking, old goblet fills the screen, adorned by many purple, glittering jewels. They circle the cup’s rim and holder too.
I know that cup...
Alec feels dread well up. He knows where this is now going.
“Magnus Bane decided to steal something very important from Valentine. The purple gems you see here are taken from a rare, precious stone called painite. They are worth around $2 million dollars. Per carat," Maryse emphasises. “As you can see, there are over thirty five painite jewels on the Cup, making it to be a loss around $70 million dollars that Valentine is rather keen to get back. Also, as you know, this is the Cup that once belonged to The Clave. It is a very precious artefact, and one that we would like you to return to us. It has been long overdue."
“How did he steal it?” Alec blurts out, unable to hide his curiosity. He hides his admiration though. Though Bane seems like a suicidal fool, Alec can’t help but feel a touch of surprised pleasure at how one person could cause so much trouble.
“You’re not to care about that,” Maryse says, coolly. “The Morgensterns already have people hunting him down. They’ll drag him back underground and beat him to death. And that’s if he’s lucky. They’ll likely make it last weeks, or months.”
Alec’s stomach clenches. He realises that the kill mission is so much more than that.
He’s not hunting down a serial killer, or a crazy terrorist.
He’s being sent on a mercy kill.
“This is a mercy kill, Alec,” Maryse confirms. She looks at him and summarises, “Find Magnus Bane and kill him. Before Valentine gets his hands on him. And be sure to bring the Cup to us.” She adds casually.
At that, The Clave envoys shift. The movement is slight but Alec catches it; the way their eyes focus and their attention narrows onto him.
Won’t that put us in the direct line of fire? Alec wants to ask. Stealing said stolen Cup from one of the country’s – no, world’s – most dangerous crime leaders seems a little crazy.
Okay, try a crap load of crazy.
But Alec doesn’t feel like that statement will go down too well with The Clave, or his mom.
Still, like the good, loyal son he is, Alec simply nods. “Locate Magnus Bane. Kill him. Bring back the Cup," he repeats calmly. “Simple.”
One of the Clave envoys steps forward. “We’d advice you to keep this mission to as few as possible. Take another agent, but not a team. You need to be swift and careful, agent.”
“I understand." He stands to leave. "I have someone who would be perfect.”
“You not only want me to let you go on this mission, but you want me to tag along?" Isabelle exclaims. She glares at him with wide eyes. "I didn’t realise it was ‘kill two Lightwoods with one stone’ day.”
“Izzy, please," Alec tries again. "You know you’re the only one I’d trust as my backup. Please. I promise I’ll take the shot, just...support me in this." Another worry clicks in his mind. He looks at her seriously and promises, "I’ll position you away from the action-“
“Excuse you. If I’m going, I’m going. I’m not waiting on the rooftop with a sniper. I’ll be by your side or not at all, brother.”
“Damn it, Izzy. I need you to be safe while I’m-“
“Not?” she finishes. “You want me to sit back and watch if something happens to you? No chance. You want me as your partner? Fine. You want me as your witness? Adios, hermano.”
"Fine." Alec stands from his sister's bed and storms towards the door. “I’ll go on my own then.”
He turns to leave, but Isabelle grabs his arm and spins him back around. Her expression is unsure now, and Alec feels a stab of guilt. He didn’t mean to blackmail her, but how else could he convey that he needed her beside him? He needs Izzy to be there. Who knew what he’s going to feel like afterwards?
The one thing Alec did know was that he couldn’t do this without Izzy. He's never needed his sister’s support more.
Something flashes in Izzy’s eyes, and her expression softens. She tugs him back towards the bed again, and the pair sit down.
“I don’t like it…” she quietly begins. “But I know you can’t refuse your first kill. So I’ll be there. For you.”
“Thank you,” Alec breathes, pulling her into his arms. He hugs Isabelle tightly, allowing himself this small moment of comfort. The soft tickling of Izzy’s hair under his chin relaxes him. When she wraps her arms around his waist and sighs, Alec closes his eyes and smiles.
If she’s beside him, he has no worries.
A small part of him flashes warning signs in his mind. What if something happens to Izzy because of him? Alec shakes away that thought. If needed be, he’d kill a thousand arrogant assassins to keep Isabelle safe and alive. There will be no hesitation to shield her body from a knife, or a gun, or a fist.
He would choose her over the entire world.
And when Izzy pulls back and gently cups his cheek, Alec knows with tender clarity that his sister would return the favour.
They’ll probably get the lecture of a lifetime afterwards, but Alec and Isabelle would choose each other over any mission that comes their way. Whether it was protecting royalty, or taking down a crime lord, the Lightwood siblings would always choose each other.
It's their own private motto, hidden inside their hearts. It is a song that only they could hear.
Amidst the Clave’s rules, and their parents’ strict guidance, Alec and Isabelle have found their own freedom within the other’s love.
“Bane, uh, the target,” he quickly corrects. Thinking of the kill as a person is too dangerous. “The target is still in Brooklyn, for now. So we leave tomorrow and find him. Before he can get any further.”
For a moment, Isabelle looks ready to protest. She opens her mouth, but then shuts it quickly. She looks away and nods.
“Alright. I’ll get some gear together.” Her tone is laced with bitterness. “I’ll let you choose your own weapons.”
“Izzy, come on,” he protests. “I don’t have a choice. You know that. And besides, I’m doing the guy a favour anyway. If he’s stupid enough to steal from the Morgensterns then he should be lucky that someone’s going to kill him before he’s stripped to the bone in an underground cell.”
Izzy grimaces. “Imaginative.” She sighs, running a hand across her forehead. Something in her settles though, despite her frustration, and she plucks off the hair tie around her wrist and scoops her hair back into a messy bun. “Fine. But I’m not happy that mom’s thrown this at you.”
Alec is silent. To badmouth Maryse Lightwood was to badmouth the entire organisation. Though Izzy has no qualms with doing this, Alec still feels compelled to obey by the loyalty embedded into him.
And when Izzy walks away, the whispers of doubt leave Alec with a sour taste in the back of his throat. I
t will be an easy mission, he tells himself.
But so much rests on their shoulders. Not just killing Magnus, but retrieving the Cup – which is no doubt being searched for by many of Valentine’s scouts and own assassins. If they find Magnus first, or more importantly, the Cup, then the entire mission will be a failure. And the Lightwood name will have been dragged through the mud.
Alec exhales shakily, and turns his mind to the preparations ahead.
He needs a car.
And a gun.
Scratch that. Multiple guns.
Better to be safe than sorry.
Or; better to be a killer, than killed.
The lights outside Pandemonium are too bright. The flickering blue neon sign is practically giving Magnus a migraine already.
His head already hurts and he hasn’t even touched a sip of alcohol yet. Not that’s he’s going to. Not tonight anyway. Tonight is not a night to be careless, or to get lost in the arms of a beautiful stranger and dance away all the cares and troubles of the world.
Still, Magnus lets himself have half an hour. That’s all.
And then he has to get the hell out of here, and the entire country.
Not for the first time that day, he wants to throw himself against a wall and curse the fates for gifting him with both a beautiful brain and a stubborn need for payback.
Victory and stupidity have always gone hand in hand with Magnus, but the shit he’s just gotten himself into is really something quite spectacular.
He almost wants to cup his hands and cry out, “Hey! Guess who just stole from Valentine Morgenstern and in doing so, condemned himself to a very short lifespan?”
He can only imagine the looks of confusion the dancers would give him. Magnus doubts anyone knows who the Morgensterns are, but if he yelled out that he’s currently in possession of an object worth more than all their houses combined then surely they’d perk up a bit.
Half an hour, and ticking, he reminds himself. The bouncer notices him and waves him in without a second glance. It’s not like Magnus owns the place. But his dead friend does. Or did.
Past tense can kiss my ass, he thinks; anger and pain bubbling beneath his skin. He still owns it.
Technically, the club now belongs to Magnus himself. But unfortunately he isn't going to get too long to appreciate all the beautiful madness of the club. He could mourn for the redecoration ideas later.
He is here to say goodbye.
Part of Magnus really didn't want to come, but he knows that he owes it to his friend to brave the rush of memories now swarming him. Memories of nights out blur into one, but as he passes through, Magnus remembers the dances he’s shared on the dancefloor, and the kisses he’s given and received in the booths.
It hurts. It really, really hurts.
He moves like a ghost through the packed club. Dancers twirl and laugh and smile, but Magnus can’t see the one smile he wants to see. The one he would kill to see one more time.
Ordering a drink is a temptation he doesn’t need, so Magnus heads towards the back and slips into a booth filled with a man and woman talking quietly. The couple nod politely and he returns it, and then they look away.
Good. He doesn’t want to explain why he looks ready to start weeping at any moment.
Because he seriously does.
Magnus bites his lip against the strain of wanting to have a sobbing fit. His throat feels tight; his hands twitching and tapping against the table counter. He can’t even close his eyes. All he’ll see is his friend’s face. He’ll only see the newspaper headline, and relive that awful morning over and over again.
Fighting back tears, Magnus makes a decision. A very stupid one.
He pretends. He looks around the dancefloor and pretends that at any moment, he’s going to see a head of curly hair and a wicked grin. That his friend is going to come back with the next round of drinks.
Before the first tear falls, Magnus has almost convinced himself. The lie is so believable. It’s a crowded night, and there are so many bodies pressed together that his friend could have gotten a bit mislaid by a pretty boy or girl.
And then he does something even stupider. He has a drink. Sure, it’s just a wine spritzer, but if someone was on the hunt for a badass assassin, they would find a slightly tipsy man crying at the bar.
Not so legendary are we now? Magnus thinks. He flinches when he hears it in his friend’s voice, teasing and poking fun at their old jokes at leaving their names in lights.
The beat of the music is intoxicating. Even more so than the alcohol. Magnus stretches his neck and rolls back his shoulders, settling into the chair and relaxing a little.
A few people on and around the dancefloor catch his eyes. A beautiful woman with tumbling blonde locks and dark skin. A slender man with bright purple hair and tartan leggings that Magnus almost smiles at. A hazel-eyed beauty eyes him up from the bar, and the way he rests his elbows on the bar and watches him intensely sends shivers of pleasure down Magnus’ spine. The stranger’s dark hair falls over his eyes slightly, and they widen and quickly look away.
Aw. A shy hottie. A rare breed.
Magnus turns away from the man at the bar and sighs.
Perhaps he should dance.
One last dance, he suddenly thinks, and then wishes he hadn’t. What a sombre, anguished thought it was. To never again dance at the club that was once his home. That was once a place of friendship and love and never having to worry about feeling unloved.
He glances over at the bar, perhaps hoping to ask the tall beauty for a dance, but the man is gone. Disappearing like smoke.
Magnus frowns. Damn.
“Dance with me!”
He’s saved from disappointment when the curly-haired blonde from earlier announces her presence with a dazzling grin. Her deep red dress is short and hugs her curves in all the right places, and when she leans down and grabs his hand, Magnus has a delightful eyeful of her breasts.
But he’s almost out of time, and although it’s tempting to allow himself a dance with the blonde – his hands are already wanting to cradle her hips and rock against her – Magnus forces himself to look apologetic.
“I have to go!” he says, raising his voice to be heard over the music. “Maybe another time," Magnus lies.
He’s not coming back. Ever. Unless he really does want to die.
The blonde pouts. “Please? Don’t make me lose the bet!” She gestures a little drunkenly at the giggling Korean girl standing a few feet away. “She chose you for me!”
Magnus can’t help but smile. He’ll never be able to close his heart to the little joys of humankind. He accepts her hand.
“One dance, dear," he warns.
She beams, and he returns it.
They edge onto the dancefloor as another song begins to echo.
The blonde is a fantastic dancer; someone who knows how to dance with someone without being a total creep. He likes that. He holds her close, carefully making sure she’s okay with it before resting his chin in the crook of her neck. The scent of shampoo and strawberries and champagne washes over him, and he smiles. How easy it would be to fall in love with someone like her. Someone who smiles like the winning lottery ticket is right around the corner. A person with hope in their heart and a song on their lips. Magnus dances, swaying with the rhythm of the song, and loses himself for a moment or two. This is what he’s giving up. The last dance he’ll have in this club.
His eyes open lazily, and he catches sight of the beautiful hazel-eyed man again. At the bar once more, he leans back on his elbows. His head is angled sharply, following Magnus’ movements with a keen eye.
Magnus winks at him.
It’s a shame really. The guy clearly has good taste, and Magnus would’ve loved to drop everything – all his carefully made plans - and seduce him.
Unfortunately, it’s not destined to be, as Magnus is an assassin on the run from an impressively numerous amount of powerful people. And the stranger is probably a normal guy with a dead-end job and parents to visit on Sundays.
Minus 1 minute.
His movements still.
Reluctantly, he leans back and smiles at the woman. He wishes he could thank her properly; for being a wonderful last partner. Instead, he places a quick kiss on her cheek.
“Enjoy your evening, my dear," he says, into her ear, before leaning back.
She groans, but lets him go. “Bye, bye, gorgeous!” the curvy blonde calls, and he flashes her one last smile before heading off the dancefloor.
He turns to head upstairs; up into the recently abandoned apartment.
There are a few things he needs to grab before leaving…
The cool air hits Alec as soon as he walks outside the club.
He inhales a gulp of clean air and quickly turns around the corner, pausing to duck into an alleyway a few feet away from the club’s entrance. From here, he can lean around and have a perfect view of anyone who leaves.
Magnus is still dancing when he left, but Alec had watched as the man’s movements became less and less eager and realised that he was going to head for the exit soon.
He curses himself for waiting so long, but he quickly reminded himself that he had needed to check that Magnus was unarmed.
Inside the club, he had needed to rake his eyes up and down his body. At least three times.
The man moves like a weapon; lithe hip circles and graceful footwork. His hands are another thing entirely. Alec had watched, a gnawing heat growing inside him, as Magnus’ fingertips became a hurricane of movement. They edge along his dance partner’s hips, up along her forearms, and then caress the air around them. They were hypnotising, and Alec almost forgot the reason he is there.
To kill the man.
He quickly glances across the road. On the first floor railing of an apartment stood Izzy, hiding in the shadows like he was. Her hands are gripping the balcony railing tightly, and when she met his stare, she smiles briefly. It's a tense flicker of a smile, but Alec appreciates it.
There is one small issue with their original plan.
Inside, he had noticed that Magnus wasn’t carrying a bag. Or something that looked big enough to hold an important object of value.
Then he realises.
Magnus doesn't have the Cup. At least not right now.
And if they kill him as soon as he steps out of the club – like the original plan instructed – then they’ll be clueless to know where to start looking.
As much as Alec hates it, they had to change the plan. Just a little.
They are also going to need to force Magnus to reveal the Cup’s location.
Alec is still working out the details to that – can he torture a man and stay sane? – when Magnus steps out of the club.
Alec’s brain reacts quickly; assessing and analysing. His target has come out with a small group of people, who are laughing and stumbling around. Magnus is towards the middle, hidden away inside the circle of safety.
It would be clever, if it wasn’t so infuriating to Alec; who really needs to stuff Magnus into a car and kill him.
Really, the man is quite impossible. Why couldn’t he make it easy for Alec?
Glaring, he watches as Magnus lingers with the group as they chat loudly with each other, but not to him.
Magnus holds himself tall, as though he belongs with this group of strangers. His disguise is so casual, so practised. He smiles when the group smiles, and laughs when they do; blending in perfectly. Even with glittery eyes and skin-tight leather pants, Magnus is camouflaged by normalcy, and Alec continues to wait for the perfect chance.
Alec then freezes as he notices something that definitely wasn’t there before.
Magnus’ navy blazer is now slightly bulkier, pulling taunt against his chest. His fingertips also tick nervously against his hip, his hands ready to move.
Shit. He’s armed.
He signals to Izzy that their target has at least two handguns and perhaps a small knife. Magnus’ right leg is rigid, as though he couldn’t bend against the metal strapped to his thigh. Alec assumes it is a boot knife. Something larger would show through Magnus’ figure-hugging pants.
Alec scowls to himself. He seriously needs to get his ass in gear. And he needs to stop thinking about Magnus’ ass.
The group is still standing outside the club, concealing Magnus.
Go home, he pleads to them. Continue your drunken adventures elsewhere.
And then, by a chance surveillance, Alec glances over and notices another sniper on the rooftop opposite the club. And it definitely is not Isabelle. The figure is aiming.
Alec doesn't think twice about leaping around the corner and crying out, “MOVE!”
Despite their intoxicated state, the crowd scatters surprisingly fast. But Alec only has a moment to be grateful. He dives, tackling Magnus to the ground just as the first shot hits into the wall behind them.
Of course he has to protect Magnus. It's the obvious choice. How else can Alec kill him later?
He definitely did not save the man he's been sent to kill. No way, Jose.
He tells himself quickly that he had been protecting the innocent group. The last thing anyone wants on their hands is civilian blood, and Alec is certain that The Clave would not approve of cleaning up that mess. So he had scattered the group, and tackled Magnus Bane.
Ignoring that he was laying completely on Magnus, Alec glances up and watches the sniper re-loading. He then glances at the wall, at where the shot had fired, and sees a tranquilliser dart rolling to a slow stop on the floor nearby.
They are going to try and bring Magnus in and do god knows what to the poor fool.
Alec doesn't give himself time to blush at how close their bodies are– and how every part of Magnus is firmly pressed against him – and sits up quickly, dragging Magnus up onto his elbows. He is still straddling him, shielding him from the sniper.
Heat crawls up his body as Magnus gazes up at him, his eyes wide. The intensity is too much. He needs to break the hold.
So Alec announces, “You have a tail.”
Magnus smirks. “No shit, pretty boy," he replies, his tone amused and yes, a little flirtatious.
Alec is mildly impressed that being fired at has not silenced him.
Magnus leans closer, his eyes flicking down to where Alec still straddles him.
“Is that a gun or are you just excited to see me- oh, fuck, okay, that is a gun.” Magnus sits up, pushing onto his elbows and tilting his head like a cat. “That’s actually hotter.”
Alec blinks, using the cover of the car to gather his thoughts for a moment. He could shoot Magnus right here. Or knock him out and drag him into the car, like planned. But the sniper isn’t going to leave them be, and he’s certain that others will arrive soon. He hopes that Izzy is on the move already. In fact, she probably had already taken care of the rooftop shooter. It would explain how Alec hasn't been shot during his little exchange with the foolish assassin beneath him.
“Come with me.” he demands, rolling sideways and keeping low as he releases Magnus from his hold. His body tenses, waiting for the moment that Magnus will whip out his knife and slit his throat. Or try to. Alec’s sure he could put up a fair fight.
“’Come with me if you want to live?’” Magnus says, his voice weirdly robotic.
Alec stares blankly.
“Really?” Magnus looks shocked. “You must know the movie, surely. Schwarzenegger? Machines? 80s classic?” He actually takes the time to shake his head in disappointment. “The world sure is a scary place-“
“Are you done?” Alec interrupts. He rolls his eyes and clicks the safety off his gun. “If you’re done, we can go.”
Magnus’ expression hardens. A dangerous look enters his eyes, turning their warmth into a fierce fire. He slowly takes out a small gun.
Alec feels his jaw drop.
“Do you like it? Custom made.”
“Charming? Exquisite? A thing of pure beauty like myself?”
“It’s, uh, pink,” Alec mutters.
This time, Magnus rolls his eyes and sighs. “Yes, I have a pink gun. Screw yourself if you don’t think it’s the hottest thing ever. I have one in every shade but something about pink makes my eyes pop.”
Alec doesn’t even have a reply to that. He grabs Magnus’ forearm, pointing.
“We’re heading down that alley.” Alec nods to where he stood before. “I’ll explain who I am later, but let’s get away from here first.”
Magnus hesitates. His fingers twitch around the gun, and a jolt of fear runs into Alec. What if he’s forced to kill him after all? He’s angered by how much he really doesn’t want to. But he will. If he has to, Alec knows with frustrated sadness that Magnus won’t stand a chance against him.
But then Magnus nods. “Let’s go.”
Relief mixes in with fear, and Alec channels it into his movements, quickly scanning overhead for anymore snipers. He looks across the street and quickly spots two men waiting behind the cover of a large red pickup truck.
“Okay, we have two tails,” Alec quickly says. “You head for the alley and I’ll cover you. On three?”
He really wishes he has the time to try and see where Izzy’s gone, but he knows she can take care of herself, and has probably already taken out half of their attackers.
Alec sends a quick prayer in her unknown direction before turning to Magnus. “Ready?”
Magnus sets his jaw determinedly. He nods, crouching and preparing to run. The corners of his eyes crinkle, the glitter glistening under the neon light of the club’s sign. Alec stares for a moment too long, enraptured by the man’s colours, and forces himself to focus.
“Go!” Alec yells, quickly standing and firing at both of the men opposite the street. He uses the car as a shield, protecting his lower half, and fires two, careful shots. His aim is true, taking out both attackers. They fall to the floor, and that’s all he has time to see.
Alec turns and runs to the alleyway, where Magnus stands with his back pressed firmly against the wall, breathing heavily.
Magnus’ expression softens as he joins him, and Alec ignores why this matters to him; why it matters that his target is pleased to see him alive. He throws an arm against Magnus’ chest, pinning him to the wall.
“We’re going to head down the alley and turn right. It’ll open up into a shopping mall. Hopefully it will have late night crowds for us to blend into it. Sound good?”
Alec curses himself. Why is he asking Magnus’ permission?
Alec takes a moment to curse the entire situation. Why couldn’t Magnus have made it easy to complete the mission? Why couldn’t he have had the Cup on his person like a good, naïve little thief?
But Magnus isn’t just a thief, Alec reminds himself. He’s an assassin, and clearly a very good one to have stolen from Valentine and lived this long already.
He keeps that in mind as they head down the alleyway, working together and switching positions to survey the opposite ends. There’s a natural rhythm to the movements, and Alec finds himself almost enjoying the feel of Magnus’ back pressed against his. It is a dance he can understand. One of logic. Not like the hypnotic, passionate dance of the club.
Just before they head out into the large, open square of shops and market stalls, Alec dares to ask, “Where’s the Cup?”
Magnus shoots him a surprised look. “You think I’d bring it to a nightclub?” His eyes narrow. “Who are you-“
“Later,” Alec pleads. He checks again for ambushers, and turns to Magnus, hoping to convey the urgency. “Look, I need you to be straight with me-“
Magnus interrupts with a laugh. A genuine, delighted laugh that fills the quiet night. It fills Alec to the brim with light. Alec watches in astonishment as, while having just been fired at, Magnus Bane throws his head back and giggles. He rests his head against the alley wall.
“I will never be straight with you, Alexander,” Magnus teases.
A stab of shock pierces Alec. He takes a hesitant step back, hand hovering near the trigger of his gun.
“How do you know my name?”
He didn’t remember saying his name. He’s sure he didn’t. So how the hell did Magnus know who he was? Perhaps he’d given something away-
Magnus reaches into his blazer pocket and pulls out a ballpoint pen. Alec’s pen.
“I swiped this when you so gracefully fell on me.” Magnus takes a smooth step forwards and slides the pen into the folds of Alec’s jacket, his fingers brushing over Alec’s shirt. Alec tenses beneath the touch, reacting to the sudden feel of skin so close to his heart.
Magnus steps back and winks. “I usually like to know the names of people who top me.”
That’s it. Time’s up. They’ve been pushing their luck before, but now it was getting ridiculous. Alec really doesn’t have time to sit around exchanging names and flirting.
He hates – really, really fucking hates – that his brain stores this new information for later. Magnus’ teases become unhelpful answers to questions he didn’t even ask. Why does he need to care about Magnus’ sexuality? He’ll be dead before the hour’s up anyway.
Then why are you protecting him?
The Cup, he reminds himself. They need to find the Cup before he can complete the kill. His first kill.
“I’m not a fool, you know. You’re after the Cup.”
Alec tenses. Without hesitating, he lifts his arm and swings the gun around; pressing it into Magnus’ forehead. A sudden weight presses against Alec’s throat, and he looks down and sees a blade resting against the delicate skin there. Magnus’ arm is tense, his expression unwavering as he holds Alec’s gaze.
They stay like this for a few moments; both ready to kill, and be killed.
Alec, with a gun pressed to Magnus’ head, and Magnus ready to flick his wrist and swipe a fatal cut across Alec’s throat.
Neither one moves.
“Get me out of here alive and I’ll take you to the Cup.”
Alec feels the weight of the gun beneath his hands. The cool metal of the dagger is like an invitation against his throat. Magnus is ready to go down with a fight; a fight that Alec won’t get out of alive.
But there’s another option now, and Alec considers it carefully. If he gets Magnus out alive, surely he can still kill him later on. Once they’ve retrieved the Cup. He can quickly fabricate some lies about protecting Magnus, and kill him when the time is right.
He looks at Magnus – really looks at him – and sees the fear in the other man’s eyes. It is so small, but Alec sees it. It is like looking into a mirror. It startles him that Magnus could be leaving the world soon, and Alec decides that the logical thing to do is to let him have another hour to live. Or a day even.
Until we have the Cup.
“Can you hotwire a car?” Alec asks slowly.
Magnus’ lips twitch. “You bet your hot ass I can.”
And then he lowers his arm, and the knife along with it. Magnus remains still though, staring across at him quite casually, as though he still doesn’t have a gun pressed to his temple.
The fact that Magnus trusts him so easily shocks Alec. But then, rethinking it, is Magnus really trusting him at all? He’s clearly a quick thinker, and Alec has no idea whether any of this was a good idea or not. But he really needs that Cup, and Magnus is now offering a quick route to it.
So, and with the regret already piling up, Alec lowers his gun reluctantly; quite certain that this is going to be a disaster in no time.
Still, he looks at Magnus and know with unusual clarity that he’s going to survive the day. And Alec is going to help him.
“Follow me then.”
Alec and Magnus slip out of the alleyway and into the open space. People fill the area, some lingering outside bars and clubs, and others just out for a late night walk because fuck it, it’s Brooklyn and that’s normal behaviour around here. The walk quickly, weaving between people and checking all around for anyone suspicious.
As they walk up the main road, Alec quickly nudges Magnus with his arm and gestures to the upcoming divergence, where the main square breaks off into different paths and roads. A small road with neat rows of houses calls to Alec when he sees a number of smart cars waiting to be put into action.
And then the gunfire starts.
“Fuck," he hisses, pulling Magnus behind the cover of a lamppost before taking aim at their pursuers. Alec quickly counts; one, two, three, four-
He stops, clicking a new round into place.
Just as he’s about to peer out and risk taking a few more shots, Magnus is one step ahead. Alec watches in horror as Magnus leaps out and fires at the men, ducking and weaving behind benches, shrubs and shoving aside people. He is a blur of movement and gunfire, and Alec is reminded that this is an assassin, not just a thief. Not just a target. This is someone like him, who can attack with lethal precision.
Unlike Alec, Magnus seems to have no cares about reckless behaviour. He fires with a grin, as if he’s firing at a fairground game and not in a serious life-or-death defence.
Alec swears loudly and takes out another two men, catching them aiming at Magnus from the cover of a bench opposite the square. He watches them crumple.
A sudden squeal of tires on tarmac breaks his concentration. Alec turns quickly and sees a black car pulling up a few feet away. The blackout windows fail to reveal the driver’s identity, so he’s about to start shooting at the tires when the door flies open.
Out steps an angel of fury.
Or, more specifically, Alec’s little sister.
But he takes one look at her and flinches. The smoke billowing from the car swirls around Isabelle like the gates to heaven and hell have been forced upon. She stalks towards the action, ignoring his apologetic look.
In her hands, Izzy holds two very large bombs, and it is with deliberate show that she uses her teeth to pull out the pins before launching them in the direction of Valentine’s men.
Fortunately Magnus is smart enough to get out of the way. He joins Alec behind the post again and watches with an impressed grin as Izzy launches the bombs at the men, carefully aiming for the centre of the group and not the citizens huddled in the corners of shop windows, or running away.
The bombs explode in a burst of harmless, but thick smoke, and Alec is pleased that Izzy didn’t feel the need to blow up half of the square. Using the smoke-filled air as a cover, Alec and Magnus head for the car; Izzy already hot on their trails. The click of her heeled boots is a deadly crack of determination.
Alec throws himself into the passenger seat, quickly checking that Magnus has climbed into the backseat without any trouble. When he sees the man grinning at him, his dark hair standing up in places, Alec swallows and looks away.
Why is Magnus such an infuriatingly happy assassin?
Whatever Alec had expected, Magnus definitely isn't it. He's colourful and excited and fierce. He's reckless, yet confident in his movements and attacks. He had watched as he wove a path through the square, unafraid to face whoever came at him.
Whatever vendetta Magnus has against Valentine and his people is certainly strong. Alec finds himself wanting to know, but keeps silent. He checks the rear view mirror as Izzy drives away with haste, her knuckles taunt and tense against the steering wheel.
When they have safely drove for a few minutes, Alec turns to her. “Izzy, let me explain-“
“What the fuck, Alec? The actual fuck?”
“Look, we had to change the plan.”
“We? This was all you,” Izzy growls. She takes a corner sharply and Alec winces at her clear distress. She rushes through the nearly-empty roads with determination. “I’m going to kick your ass as soon as we find a safe spot.”
Magnus chooses that moment to undo his seatbelt and hover in-between them, his lips inches from Alec’s cheek.
“Hello, dears. Thought I’d introduce myself. I’m Magnus. Magnus Bane. I thank you graciously for the epic save.”
Izzy huffs. “I wasn’t saving you, but whatever. You’re welcome, I guess.”
“Honest and beautiful. Do you two have any other hot siblings by any chance?”
“Just us,” Alec says quickly.
Izzy’s eyes widen, and then narrow in anger.
Crap. Why did he just revealed that?
“How did you know we were related?”
Magnus shrugs happily. “Good guess.” He's still hovering between them, his arms balancing on Alec and Izzy’s headrests. “You have the sibling banter down to a tee.”
Annoyed, Alec shoves his chest with a careless hand.
Magnus falls back into the backseat with a little yelp.
“Rude," he mutters.
Alec hides his smirk.
And then the situation replays in his mind; the fighting, the lack of killing, and the lack of a Cup.
His smile fades quickly.
Glancing across at his sister, Alec wonders if there is any way he can explain his plan to Izzy without giving anything away to Magnus.
So he just keeps quiet, and tries to catch Izzy’s eye and beg her forgiveness.
“Where are we headed?” Magnus calls out. He's decided to lay down over the three seats, stretching out his legs and closing his eyes.
Alec growls, “Away.”
Magnus smirks, a smug expression on his face. “Fine. I know the silent, brooding type. Very well.” He stretches out like a cat, crossing his legs and acting like he’s at a five star hotel. “I’m in your hands, Alexander," he purrs. "Take me somewhere where we can get to know each other-“
Alec elbows the steering wheel.
The car swerves, Izzy swears, and Magnus falls off the seats with a yelp, but Alec feels happy for the first time that night.