Alec returned to his room at the Institute after hours of work, talking to the Inquisitor, trying to explain what had happened and fix everything. There had been some commotion with Valentine, but he let the others deal with it and retired for the night.
Closing the door to his room and stripping his outer clothes, he went over the events of the day. Not stopping Azazel had been bad, and with Jace's occurrence today, there was going to be busy days ahead. And Magnus. After the attack, he had been...strange. No reaction when Alec had slipped up and called the loft "home." Even he had been surprised by that casual admittance, that he found the loft to be more a home to him than the institute was. And then he'd left so abruptly, no goodbye of any kind. Maybe he was just tired.
Alec shrugged it off, and when he finally made his way to bed, slipped into sleep almost instantly.
Alec woke up late - and all on his own. No call from Magnus or any other rousing from someone. He got up, dressed, and made his way out of the room. When he entered the public area, Jace moved over to him. "Alec, we have a problem."
As they approached the cell that Valentine was held in, Alec could hear shouting. Valentine was pounding the glass, begging for someone to help him. Alec's brow furrowed. "What the hell?"
Valentine was no longer restrained and he was pounding the glass. "Please! I'm not Valentine! I'm Magnus Bane!"
Alec looked at Jace, completely confused. Jace pulled him aside. “Yeah, he’s been like this for awhile. But look, it's ridiculous. This is Valentine. He's always planning his next move. You do not wanna fall for his lies. Believe me, I’ve been down that road.”
Alec exhaled and then nodded. “Yeah, okay. So what do we do? Just ignore him?”
"Well, we still gotta get him to talk. Maybe, if he's using this Magnus ploy, you could use it to our advantage. See if we can get him to cooperate."
Alec hesitated. "D'you really think that would work?"
Jace shrugged. "Worth a shot."
"Okay." Alec studied his parabati's face. "Are you okay? You know, after yesterday and everything that happened?"
Jace brushed him off. "Yeah, I'm fine." At Alec's face, he relented. "I'm still a little freaked out by what happened, but I think you may have been right. My angel blood might be part of why I was able to escape Azazel's control. I just...I don't know what all this means now." He hesitated. "And Clary knows that we're not siblings."
Alec was taken aback. "Wow, you told her?"
"Yeah, thanks to Valentine." Jace glanced up. "Speaking of which, we should talk to him before we lose our chance. The Inquisitor is in another meeting after last night, but she's coming later to interrogate Valentine again."
Alec looked at his parabati. "Alright. Let's do this."
As they returned to the cell, Valentine resumed begging them to believe him. Alec rolled his eyes. "I'm gonna go in there. Give me a few minutes." Jace frowned.
"Are you sure?"
Alec nodded. "Yeah. I got this."
As Alec entered the cell, Valentine turned to face him and then became relieved. "Alexander! Thank god. Look, I know how this seems. But you have to believe me. It's Magnus, please Alec." Alec scoffed.
"Really, Valentine? You can't really think that this is going to work. I mean, come on."
Valentine looked desperate. "Please Alec, look at me. When Azazel had us all incapacitated, he must have switched Valentine and my bodies. I don't know why, but we have to stop Valentine and switch us back before something happens."
Valentine reached out to Alec almost beseechingly and Alec took a step back, tilting his head warningly and reaching out his hand to halt him. Valentine did so, looking at him earnestly. "Come on, Alexander. If you do love me, you have to believe me. I-I can prove it. You remember, when at your wedding, I came and I tried to stop you and you did, and you came and you kissed me in front of everyone, or when I was trying to save Luke and you came in-"
Alec cut him off. "Enough. I don't know how you learned that, but I don't believe you and this is not going to work." Valentine looked frustrated beyond belief and frightened. And he kept going.
"It's true, Alexander. How about the time that you bought me that good luck charm and-"
Alec lost his patience and lunged at Valentine. "I said enough. Have you been following me? Have you been following Magnus? There threats are pointless. You're locked up here and you're not getting out. I don't know what you think is going to happen with this little ploy, but it's not going to work. If this is a game, yours is over. We caught you and you're going to be punished for everything that you did. And you're never going to get to hurt Magnus or anyone else again."
Valentine was unmoving against him, unresistant. He looked old and tired. His voice when he spoke was soft and pleading. "Alexander, please." He hesitated. "I'm Magnus. I-"
Before he could continue the door slammed open and the Inquisitor's voice rang out imperiously. "That is enough, Mr. Lightwood. I'll take it from here." Alec moved back slowly, and Valentine sagged.
The Shadowhunter shook his head. "No. I will not even listen to your lies." He left the room and heard the Inquisitor order her men to restrain Valentine for questioning. He kept walking.
Alec hadn't heard from Magnus, and after such a strange experience, he felt slightly concerned. He texted him and then headed over to the loft. When he arrived, he heard noises from within and became concerned. Entering the loft, he called out.
After a brief continuation of the noises, Magnus emerged from somewhere within the house looking flustered and less like himself than usual. “Um, Alexander! What are you doing here?”
Alec smiled, confused. “I texted you. I was going to check on you after last night. How are you?” Magnus shrugged and shook his head.
“I'm fine. How is everything at the Institute? How is everything with Valentine?"
Alec laughed. “Actually, it was weird today.” He moved closer to Magnus and leaned in to kiss him. Magnus seemed confused, pulling back from him. Alec froze. “Is everything alright?”
Magnus quickly recovered but not quickly enough. “Yes, fine. I'm just a little preoccupied at the moment." He quickly kissed Alexander on the cheek and moved away. “So what were you saying about Valentine?” Alec slowly followed him further into the room. Magnus seemed tense, his back to Alec as he fiddled with drinks on the cart. Alec didn't know why, but he hesitated.
“Uhhh...nothing. It was just a lot of work today you know getting everything sorted out after what happened last night.” He watched Magnus carefully. “And Valentine still hasn't recovered it seems from last night. He still is mostly unconscious. The Inquisitor’s waiting for him to wake up.” He watched as Magnus seemingly relaxed. He didn't know why he had lied to Magnus. He felt strange, like something was wrong about the atmosphere. Once again he moved closer to Magnus and touched his shoulder. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Magnus smiled quickly and forcedly at him. “I told you I'm fine. No need to hover.”
Alec moved back. "Sorry.”
A strange, uncomfortable silence fell over them. Magnus turned around fully to face him. "Was there anything else?" Alec slowly shook his head.
"...No. Just wanted to make sure you're okay." He turned around and moved towards the door. "I'll call you later?"
He looked at Magnus hesitantly, worried. Magnus waved him off. "Yes, yes, of course. You really should get back to the Institute. Let me know when Valentine wakes up "
Alec nodded. "Okay. I'll talk to you later.” Once again, Magnus waved him off and moved off into another room. Alec slowly left the room feeling strange. He pulled out his phone and dialed Jace. Jace answered on the third ring.
Alec hesitated for a moment. "Jace...I think we have another problem. "
Back at the Institute, Alec quickly moved to Valentine’s cell. Opening the door, he was somewhat relieved to see that the Inquisitor had already left. However, Valentine looked worse for wear. He raised his head at the opening of the door and seemed both relieved and worried to see Alec. “Alexander?” Alexander stared at him for a moment, then spoke.
Valentine sat up straight. “Oh thank God. " Alec shook his head.
"I wouldn't just yet. You're going to have to really make me believe you’re Magnus."
Valentine nodded eagerly. He seemed searching for something to say "You let me use your strength when I was trying to save Luke's life. You hardly knew me at all. The only thing you knew about me was that I was a warlock and you were a Shadowhunter. And yet you let me use your very strength to save another Downworlder. You were so scared about what coming out might mean for you that it made you hesitant to come out to the point where you propose to a woman. When I came to your wedding though, you chose me. In front of so many influential Shadowhunters, you chose me. When you were trying to find Jace and you couldn't wake up, I was so scared that you might never wake up. I kissed you trying to wake you up. And it didn't work. And it broke my heart. I think part of me knew then that I loved you."
Alec felt stunned, but tried to remain composed. “This is really creepy coming out of your mouth.”
Valentine laughed sadly. "Does that mean you're believing me?" Alec hesitated.
“I don't know. You do know how ridiculous this all sounds? You could have found out this information from somewhere else."
Valentine sighed. "But I didn't, Alec. I swear." He took a breath and continued. “On our first date, you told me that I was the first relationship you'd ever had. You told me that you didn't think you could have what you wanted until you met me. I don't think I have expressed to you what you saying that meant to me. You're my first so many things, Alexander Lightwood. And I'm so happy that I get to be a first for you too.” They both seemed frozen for a moment at that.
“You told me you loved me 3 days ago and I said I loved you too back and I meant it." He stopped. "You're right. This is somewhat disturbing." Alec laughed. He was watching Valentine's face, trying to decide if he believed this or not. Believing the words coming out of what he knew to be a madman and a murderer’s mouth was ridiculous. But all he knew was when he and looked at Magnus earlier that day it had not been Magnus. And the words coming out of Valentine's mouth now, that was Magnus. Valentine didn't seem to notice the internal turmoil inside of Alec. He continued. "We had sex. It was several days ago. I can describe that for you if you'd like. " Alec heard a noise and turned. He couldn't see outside of the room but he knew Jace was out there and God knows who else listening to this conversation and he blushed.
"T-that won't be necessary.” At Valentine's hopeful face, he amended his statement. "This does not mean I believe you completely. But-”
Before Valentine or Alec could say anymore, the door opened and the Inquisitor stepped in, Jace just behind her. "Mr. Lightwood, I don't know what you think you're doing but you cannot be entertaining this ridiculous notion that this is your -- that this is Magnus Bane inside of Valentine's body.”
Alec felt frozen, unsure. If he was wrong, it held the potential to be a catastrophic mistake. But if this was Magnus sitting in front of him, and Valentine was in Magnus's body, then there was a much bigger problem: Valentine was free on the world. He looked at the Inquisitor. "I'm not sure. But we have to be sure. If this is Magnus...then Valentine could be out and free in the body of a warlock."
The Inquisitor met his gaze, hesitant but struggling at his words. If he was right, he knew she knew that it would be a big problem. She looked at Valentine. “Well, is there any way for you to know ?”
Alec glanced back at him, at a loss for what to say, and Valentine beat him to the punch. “Alec has a scar across his leg from his first demon fight. It has never fully healed because he didn't let it.” Jace nodded, looking as though he had begun to believe it himself. Vale--Magnus did not stop however. “And on his ass, he has--”
“Okay! I believe him!” Alec cut him off with a shout and Jace cracked up.
“No, I wanna hear this!” Magnus smirked.
“Yeah, Alec. Don't you need me to prove it completely?" He turned to the Inquisitor. "Is there any question I can answer that would help prove it to you? Please, we have to stop Valentine before he jumps into another body or something just as dangerous.”
She studied his face and then turned to Alec. “Well? Do you believe him?” Alec paused.
“Yes. It's not just that he knows all of these little things about me. When I saw Magnus earlier, when I talked to him and looked at him, I knew ... it wasn't him. I lied to Magnus. To his face and I did it because I felt wrong around him. I wasn't talking to Magnus earlier. " he looked at Valentine's face. “I am now.”
Jace shuddered behind him. "This is so creepy." he whispered.
“How do you think I feel? " Alec and Magnus said in unison.
Jace, Clary, and Alec gathered in the cell together. The Inquisitor stood at the center of the circle. “We have to keep Valentine here. If he seen walking around the Institute, questions or worse will occur.”
Clary spoke up. "We have to get Valentine back here and switch him back into his body." She looked at Magnus. “Any idea how to do that?"
"Yes. We just need both people in the room together."
Alec looked up. “I'm going back to the loft.” A chorus of prostest arose from the group. Speaking over them, Alec continued. "Magnu--Valentine told me to call him when his body woke up. I told him that Valentine was still unconscious when I saw him earlier. I'm going to go back and tell him we need his help in reviving Valentine and get him to come here once we get him in here perhaps we can trap him somehow and force him to switch back."
Jace shook his head. “Alec. Just call him."
Alec waited as the phone rang, the others an expectant group around him. When Valentine finally picked up after several rings, his voice was a pissed "What?"
Alec feigned confusion. "Magnus? Are you alright?"
"Wh-oh, uh, Alexander? Yes, I'm fine. Why are you calling?"
Alec kept his voice as level and light as possible. "Just calling to say that we were wondering if you would come to the Institute. Valentine is still not awake and we were wondering if you could portal in and try to wake him up."
There was noise and scuffling on the other line and then Magnus's voice returned. "I.. could, I suppose. I'll come when I can. Where is Valentine being held?" Alec worked at staying relaxed.
"Just portal in to the tech room," he said. "I'll meet you there." Magnus sighed.
"Alright." The phone clicked dead and Alec realized belatedly what that meant. He looked up, alarmed.
"He has Magnus's magic."
When the portal opened, Alec stood waiting - with a horde of hidden Shadowhunters ready to fight if Alec did against an unknown to them enemy. But Magnus stepped through alone, looking vexed and Alec relaxed. The wards were only open to Magnus but he had been afraid that Valentine would find a way to get help through. But there was only a disgruntled warlock arriving, and Alec breathed easier and hailed his boyfriend's body. Magnus smiled at him and before Alec registered the strangeness of that, he smiled back.
And then Azazel stepped through the portal behind the warlock.
Alec swore and the rest of the Shadowhunters moved forward, ready to attack until he yelled at them to retreat, knowing that Azazel could kill them all. The Greater demon smiled at him as though he had heard his thoughts and came forward to join an also smiling Magnus. Jace and Clary came up behind Alec with their swords drawn and ready.
"Well?" Alec found his voice. "What is your plan here?" Azazel looked at him, feigning surprise.
"What, no worry for your warlock, Alexander Lightwood?" he looked at Magnus, Frowning exaggeratedly. "Unless... you know who he really is." Alec stepped forward slowly.
"You switched Magnus and Valentine's bodies. Why?"
Azazel shrugged. "I wanted him to see what being a Downworlder felt like. But he's rather opposed to that idea, and I don't much like the idea of him using Magnus Bane's powers to kill other demons. So, we've come to propose a trade."
"What, Valentine for Magnus?" Clary demanded.
Azazel smiled at her. "Ah, this one. A chip off the old block, really." He patted Magnus's shoulder, and Valentine tensed. Azazel chuckled. "Yes, basically. I put them back into their right bodies, we take Valentine, he takes me to the Mortal Cup, everyone's happy."
"Except for all the Downworlders you control with the Cup and the entire race of Shadowhunters," Jace interjected. Azazel shrugged.
"Fine." He grabbed the back of Magnus's neck and they both contorted, Valentine letting out a howl of agony. Alec moved forward to Magnus instinctively but Azazel was already retreating. He waved as he moved into a new portal he was creating as he spoke. "Never mind then. Thank you all. I suspect we'll be seeing each other again very soon."
Magnus's body was already falling when Alec reached him and caught him. Valentine's eyes met Alec's and he fought back a shudder as he hoisted him up. "What did he do to you?"
"He took Valentine's memories," a voice behind them said and they turned to see the Inquisitor bringing Magnus up, still cuffed and with Valentine's face. "Azazel knows what Valentine knows, so we need to swap back bodies and find out just what that is."
"Okay...how do we do that?" Magnus looked at them.
"Well, if my body was awake, we could do it here, but for this, we need to take him back to the loft."
Back at the loft, Magnus moved around gathering the items he needed. With his body still unconscious and separate from him, he looked out of place there and moved without his usual grace. When he moved back towards them, he had Alec and Jace hold up his body while he waved a vial under his face. Magnus's body jerked and then came to consciousness. Valentine began to attempt to jerk free to no avail. Alec grimaced and looked up. "Now what?"
Magnus was already adding items to a bowl. "Now, we return. Bring him over, and untie him." Jace looked up at that.
"Well, we can't untie him! What about after the spell?"
Magnus looked up. "We need our hands free for this, so just be prepared to grab and restrain Valentine's body after I leave it." He paused and shuddered. "Ooh, bad wording."
The other two nodded and brought over the third body. Jace unbound him and before Valentine could do anything, Magnus activated the spell and they both were caught by it. The magic lashed out and pulled them taught and closer together. Then, it was instantly gone and both bodies stumbled back. Jace went for Valentine's body, and Alec steadied Magnus, ready for him to still be Valentine. The man groaned and opened his eyes, relaxing instantly. "Hi, Alexander."
Alec sighed. "Oh, thank the Angel." He pulled Magnus up gently until the both of them stood and then hugged him tightly. Jace had already restrained Valentine, who was just coming to, and moving him out the door. He turned to Alec, grinned when he saw them and waved goodbye. Clary came up to join him at the door and they disappeared, Valentine in hand.
Alec clung to Magnus for a moment until the other man retreated. "I need to change. Everything. Desperately." Alec chuckled, but the action felt forced. He held onto Magnus's arm before the other left.
"Msgnus...I'm so sorry. God, I should have believed you."
Magnus smiled at him. "No. You shouldn't have. And yet, you still knew that it wasn't me. You still saved me, Alexander." he paused. "How did you know it wasn't me when you were talking to Valentine?"
Alec scrambled for words. He didn't know how to describe it, like he'd been looking at someone else through just the eyes. Like he'd been touching a stranger full of coldness where before there was always and only warmth. But that sounded creepy to him. So he shrugged it off. "I just-I just knew. It wasn't you." Magnus smiled at him.
"Well, I'm glad you did." He turned away and moved into his home slowly, assessing everything. "It doesn't look like he did anything bad here, but I'll check the wards and such just in case." Spellwork danced from his fingertips briefly before he seemed satisfied and moved on. "I'm going to change and shower, then burn my clothes thoroughly, if you don't mind." He turned and grinned at Alec. "Of course, you're welcome to join me."
Alec hesitated. "I don't...are you sure, after today? I don't want you to feel trapped or something after everything today. I just-I can just wait for you to get out."
Magnus laughed fully now and moved to him. "I wouldn't ask if I didn't want you to join me." He did not approach Alec, but turned away instead. "It is your choice, Alexander. Make yourself at home."
Alec moved after him. "Wait. I don't want you to think I'm not joining because of Valentine." he took Magnus's hand in his own. "I just feel like you need to...process? Maybe?" At Magnus's face, he rapidly backpedaled. "Not that I know what you feel, because I believe that you know what you want, I just...you went through something horrible today. I don't want you to...worry about me or anything. I'm here for you. To make sure you're okay and-and here and safe because I already messed that up before."
Magnus stared at him, his face soft and shocked. Then he kissed him, softly and briefly. When he pulled away, he was smiling. "I think that's the most words I've heard you say at once. Well, coherently, at least." he winked and Alec flushed. They stood together for a moment, relaxed and quiet. Magnus broke it. "And...I understand you. Thank you." He met Alec's gaze. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Magnus took a long time in the shower. Alec had eaten some food that Magnus kept in his kitchen for him, changed out of his outer clothes, and was now sprawled across the bed, waiting. The water finally stopped the heavy pounding and twenty minutes later, Magnus emerged, changed and fresh-faced, looking more tired then he ever ought to look. He slowly joined Alec on the bed, and curled against him with a sigh. Alec moved closer to make it as comfortable for the other man as he could. He pressed a soft kiss the Magnus's damp, product-free hair and relaxed into the pillows. As he was drifting off, he heard Magnus's voice, soft but distinctive. "Will you be here in the morning?"
Alec tightened his embrace. "Of course. I'm not going anywhere." And he meant it.