When the blaring alarms in the Institute indicate a rift has been opened, even though there are no demons pouring from it, Alec calls all hands on deck. Everyone has been on edge with Valentine running loose with centuries worth of warlock magic at his fingertips, but that didn’t mean they forgot exactly what their jobs were.
“I want the local High Warlock contacted immediately for assistance in containing and sealing the rift,” Alec said, pulling up the censor map that showed the rift on the beach. "I’ll take point with the containment team. Jace, you’re with me, Izzy, stay and monitor the situation, if more demons start to come out of it, I want to be told immediately.“
Izzy nodded. "You got it.”
Alec spun away from the table, collecting his bow, quiver (it was easier to ignore the flash of pain whenever he held them, remembering Magnus’ teasing smile as they were handed back to him, but he never forgot who they belonged to, he never would), and two seraph blades.
“What do you think we’re dealing with?” Jace asked, grabbing his own weaponry.
“Nothing we’re going to enjoy,” Alec said, his voice grim as he led the way. The new High Warlock of Brooklyn, a woman named Alice, who had keen, stern eyes but a kind smile, was waiting for them with a portal. Alec forced himself to nod to her and stepped through the portal, hitting the beach and immediately scanning the sky.
“Why do you think there aren’t demons coming out of it?” Jace asked, keeping an eye out. "You think it’s a trap by Valentine?“
Alec took a deep breath and shook his head. "No. However advanced his control of Magnus’ powers has become, he’s not able to do that. We’d know. There would be demons pouring in from every demonic realm.”
“Mr. Lightwood is right about that,” Alice said, stepping through the portal after them, heading towards where the rift was roaring in the ground. Magic sparked at her fingertips, but the instant she got close enough she was blown back from it by a giant shadow erupting from it with a screech.
“Jace!” Alec shouted, drawing four arrows, firing them at the creature who turned to face them. He scowled when the demon ducked under them, but didn’t dive to attack them. Instead the creature looked at him, tilting its head and Alec felt himself stilling as he caught a flash of gold eyes.
“Alec!” Jace skidded to a halt beside him before the creature gave another beat of its wings and was gone. "Alec, what’s wrong, what happened?“
Alec stared after the creature and watched it head towards the center of the city, flying high in the sky. He shut his eyes for a second and replayed the moment. He hadn’t been imagining it. He hadn’t. He tightened his hand around his bow and turned to Jace and then back to Alice.
"Alec, talk to me,” Jace snapped. Their bond was all over the place, and nothing about Alec could focus. "What the hell is going through your head?“
"I have to get back to the Institute,” Alec said, his voice faint. "Jace, stay here with Alice and get the Rift closed. Nothing else is going to come through it.“ Certainty threaded through his voice, but he didn’t allow himself to hope, not yet.
"Where the hell are you going?” Jace snapped, glaring at Alec.
Alec looked to the sky again, but the creature was already starting to fade from sight. He had to catch up, and quickly. "After that!“ He turned to Alice, glad she had a portal ready for him back to the Institute, striding towards ops. "Tell me you have that demon up on the scanners.”
Izzy shook her head, frowning. "The second it came onto this plane, it somehow managed to know to get high enough that it’s out of the reach of our scanners.“
Confidence settled deep into Alec’s chest and he looked up at the ceiling of the Institute, taking a deep, shuddering breath. He shouldn’t get his hopes up, he shouldn’t, but a demon that knew how high he needed to stay to avoid their scanners. "I have to go,” he said, his voice soft.
“You’ll take a team with you,” Izzy said, frowning at her brother. Alec didn’t look like he was quite okay. "What’s wrong? Did something happen?“
Alec shook his head again. "No, no, nothing happened. We just need to catch it, and I’m best suited to track it.”
“You’re Head of the Institute,” Izzy said, narrowing her eyes. "Have someone else go.“
"No,” Alec said, something in him solidifying. "It needs to be me. I know what it’s going after.“
Izzy blinked and took in that piece of information. "You, what? How?”
“I can’t tell you,” Alec said, looking at the censor map. "I wish I could explain, Iz, but I can’t. But I know what I need to do.“
Izzy took a deep breath and sighed, reaching up to massage her temples. "You have to make things so difficult.”
“I know,” Alec said, unable to keep from smiling. "I know, I’m sorry, but I promise that it has to be me to do this.“
"Can we help?” Izzy asked, looking back down at the censor map, flicking her fingers across it to widen the scope across the city. There still wasn’t any sign of the gigantic demon.
Alec swallowed and nodded. "The latest intel on Valentine.“ He felt the tension in the room rise, just like it did any time he talked about Valentine. "Where do we think he’s hiding?”
Izzy frowned. "Alec, you know he’s gone to ground, he’d biding his time, learning Magnus’ powers-“
"I know,” Alec snapped, his patience running thin. He had to be out there, be chasing after the monster, because if he was right, if he was right…he still had a chance to make thing right. "I know that, but where is our best guess?“
Izzy scowled, looking away from her brother before exhaling slowly. "Brooklyn."
Alec didn’t flinch at the quiet word like he would have a week, even a month prior. "Of course. Of course it is. Get me a map of all the ley lines in Brooklyn, Iz!” he ordered, turning and heading for the door, activating all of the runes he could as he started to run.
“Alec!” Izzy shouted, watching her brother disappear. The rest of the shadowhunters in the room looked to her and she took a deep breath. "I want everyone in the Institute on high alert, and the second that creature appears again, I want everyone ready, understood?“
She was relieved when they nodded and went about preparing as she looked down at the map, clenching her hands on the ends of it, pulling up the ley lines a moment later. She had to pray that her brother knew what he was doing. Pray, and hope.
He hadn’t run this path often, but he knew it better than any other path in the city. His heart ran it more than he would ever admit to. Alec focused on the path in front of him as he made his way towards Brooklyn.
By the time he crossed the bridge and moved into the city proper, he climbed onto the tallest nearby building and looked up at the sky. "Come on,” he whispered, looking around. "Tell me where to go, I’m here, I’m following, tell me where I’m going.“
His phone rang a moment later and Alec answered it, not taking his eyes off the sky. "Iz, have good news for me.”
“There are three nodes in Brooklyn. The one under Magnus’ old loft we’ve already cleared and confirmed is not being used by Valentine,” Izzy started, biting her lip as she looked at the readout on her tablet. "The next one is unlikely, it’s too near our regular patrols, we would have noticed something.“
Alec turned towards the direction of the last one, where he was going to be heading and felt the certainty of the decision. It was the right one, he was going where he needed to be, he was. "And the third?”
“Is in the industrial district. Near the docks. Last time we cleared it, we found a minor nest of Shax demons, but nothing to put us on alert,” Izzy rattled off. "Alec, if that is where they’re hiding-“
"It’s gonna be okay,” Alec forced himself to say, climbing down from the building, heading for the final node. "I promise it’s going to be okay.“
Izzy shut the door on Alec’s office and clenched her eyes shut. "Tell me you’re not on a suicide mission, Alec. Promise, promise me you’re not about to go and get yourself killed.”
Alec wanted to laugh, because dying was the furthest thing from his mind. "No, Iz, I’m not on a suicide mission. I have a chance to make things right, and I have to, I have to help make things right, I’m not going to fuck up this time.“
"Alec, you’re not making any sense,” Izzy said, pacing across his office impatiently. "What mistake?“
"I didn’t pay enough attention,” Alec said, his throat tight as he remembered the flash of gold eyes, the almost wounded look the demon had given him when he’d fired his arrows. "I never pay enough angel-damned attention, but I am this time.“
“I gotta go,” Alec said, hanging up the phone, taking another deep breath before sprinting down the street, glad for the glamour that kept him hidden from prying eyes.
It was a matter of minutes, but a screech sounded overhead, and then the demon was flying low over the city, and past him towards warehouses. He was right, that meant he was headed in the right direction. Alec pushed himself harder and ignored the ringing of the phone, silencing it, focusing instead on following the path the demon was leading him on. Now that the demon was lower, he’d be all over the censor maps and it’d be a matter of time before Izzy sent him backup.
The creature let out another loud screech before diving into one building, and Alec felt, rather than heard, the magical explosion that accompanied it. He grabbed his phone and swiped it open, dialing Izzy’s number.
“Alec! What the hell is going on over there, we have-”
“Get every crew you can here, now, and put them under my direct command. They are not touch that demon unless I say so!” Alec snarled, nearly skidding around a corner as he took in the ruins of the building.
“By the angel,” he breathed, watching black wings rise above the sight of the building.
“Alec!” Izzy shouted. "Alec, you’re not making sense, you can’t take it on your own!“
Alec approached, careful as the demon roared again, and was he imagining the pain he could hear? "We don’t need to take it down at all,” he told her, his voice dropping as he approached. He hung up the phone, not having time to explain, and drew his bow. A creature, more dog than demon jumped at him, and Alec downed it in a second, striding past it.
The rubble of the building proved they were in the right location. He could see bars on cages and dead bodies strewn within them. Valentine’s experiments had only gotten sicker as he’d used Magnus’ magic to warp them beyond any and all recognition. Alec moved through them, heading for the center of the building, he could hear a voice he recognized better than his own and he took a deep breath to steel himself against what he knew was waiting.
“Look at you. Repulsive. Is this what you had to do to escape Edom? Disgusting,” Valentine snarled. "Why didn’t you die and leave this world well enough alone?“
Alec felt his breath catch, hope rising in his chest against his will and he moved closer, his hands steady, an arrow already nocked as he approached the demon behind Valentine, his eyes open for any other creatures.
"You’re everything I thought you were. A monstrosity. Look at you. Stripped down to your barest parts, a demon,” Valentine said, unable to keep a laugh in. "I must say, it’s rather ironic.“
The demon roared again, and Alec knew he wasn’t imagining the pain in the sound. He stepped closer and the sound was enough to draw both their attention and he could get a clear picture of the way the demon had long, vicious claws wrapped around Valentine, and magic, red magic (wrong color, wrong, not right, except it was, he knew that magic anywhere), dripping from the demon’s talons.
"Well, well, if it isn’t little Alexander Lightwood,” Valentine drawled, laughing when the boy flinched. "Still chasing futile hopes, I see?“
"Don’t call me that,” Alec spat, the way Valentine said his name made his skin crawl and Valentine knew it, didn’t hesitate to use it against him when he thought he could. "Or I’ll put another hemlock tipped arrow through your knee. How’s your limp been?“
Valentine’s eyes narrowed and he barked out a laugh. "You’ll never get him back, it doesn’t matter. Even if this monstrosity kills me, there’s no way to get your Magnus back. You killed him, just as easily as you please.”
Alec tightened his hand around his bow, the reminder making something dark and sick twist in his gut. Valentine was right that. He’d killed Magnus, because he hadn’t been able to trust his instincts and what they had been screaming at him. "I did,“ he agreed quietly. "And my penance will be killing you, while you wear his face.”
Valentine only laughed at him as he moved the arrow, pointing it at him, taking a deep breath. The demon was quiet now, staring at them both in contemplation and Alec forced himself not to lookup and meet golden eyes he knew were waiting for him.
“Go ahead,” Valentine sneered. "You don’t have it in you. You never did. You try and you try, but you can’t bring yourself to do it.“
Alec drew back the string just a bit more, but then the demon moved, twisting Valentine out of his line of sight. Belatedly, Alec realized what the demon had been doing. His wings were sunk into the ground and shining silver with power from the ley lines. His eyes went wide in horror and he stepped closer. "No!”
Valentine started to laugh again, even as the edges of the demon claws pierced his skin. "You’re never going to get him back, he might kill me, you might stop me, but you’re never going to get him back.“
It was easy to stare at the demon’s claw as one, lifted from its free hand, started to press into the center of Valentine’s chest. Alec blinked hard against the tears, but after even a moment, he realized there was no blood. Instead, there was a bright light gathering around the claw and he approached, lowering the bow.
The demon appeared to be straining under the weight of what it was trying to do and Alec stepped closer, even as Valentine sagged in the hold of the claws. "Come on,” he whispered.
Golden eyes, wide and familiar, shot to him and Alec met them face on, well-aware of the tears streaming down his cheeks. "I see you,“ he whispered, stepping closer to the demon. "I know it’s you. Come on. Do what you came here to do.”
Alec heard Valentine scream again and only stepped closer to the demon, reaching out to touch it on the arm. The tough flesh under his fingers was so different, as was the Ichor dripping from it, but the eyes, the magic were right. "I believe you,“ he whispered, barely managing to choke the words out. "Make him pay for everything he took from you.”
It was easy to feel the demon looking at him, even as the magic tightened around Valentine, pulling harder, shining brighter. Alec watched the light flare white and then the claw was being withdrawn, and it was looking at the light around its claw. He pressed his forehead against the demon, trying to fight down a sob, and in an abrupt moment, the light was gone. Magnus’ body was limp, and Alec looked over at it, and against his will, a sob escaped at the sight.
He pressed himself tighter to the demon, feeling the tension in it, in him. "I’m sorry,“ he breathed, clenching his eyes shut. "I’m so sorry. I should have believed you, I should, but I was scared, and, that’s no excuse, but I’m so, I’m so sorry.”
The demon shifted and Alec watched a claw approach, this one different from the one that had touched Valentine and he let it. Whatever the demon wanted to do to him, he deserved it, a thousand times over. "It’s okay,“ he promised, reaching out to trail his fingers over the smooth weapon. "I know. It’s okay. It’s all my fault.”
The claw was pressing against his chest and Alec closed his eyes, taking a deep, shuddering breath. "I’m sorry Magnus,“ he whispered. "I’m so sorry. I love you.”
Except the claw wasn’t pressing into his chest. Instead there was the faintest hint of blue wisping around it and Alec reached out to touch it, unable to keep from smiling at the sight of it.
Another sob broke out of Alec’s throat at the sound of Magnus’ voice in his mind and he curled around the claw, his fingers scrambling to pull it closer. “Magnus, fuck, Magnus. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I never should have listened, I should have known.”
It’s all right. I forgive you. I don’t have long and don’t want to spend it fighting.
Alec clung tighter to the claw and nodded, looking up at the demon, meeting those eyes he knew better than his own. “I’ll come back with you. I’m never leaving you again.”
No, Alexander. You need to leave. If, if this doesn’t work, I won’t have you hurt.
Alec’s eyes widened. “If what doesn’t work?”
I didn’t rip out Valentine’s soul and leave my body intact to remain a demon, Alec. But I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t have any human blood left like this.
The words were escaping him before he could think the better of it. “Take mine,” he breathed. The demon’s, Magnus’ eyes were considering, staring at him. Alec could feel his heart pounding but he nodded again. “Magnus, take mine.”
I don’t know what it will do to you. It might-
“I don’t care,” Alec blurted. “I don’t care. I have, I have to try to make up for what I did to you, Magnus, and if this is how I do it, then fine, please, please!”
Very well. I need you to cut your arm for me. I won’t take too much, I promise.
Alec nodded and used his seraph dagger to slice his arm open and watched the blood drip down and into Magnus’ claws, the blood shining. He was starting to feel lightheaded when a wisp of blue magic abruptly healed the cut. When he was done, he stared up at Magnus, and those golden eyes were shining.
You need to leave now. Either this will work, or it won’t, Alexander.
Alec swallowed and dug his finger into the claw and tried to nod. But it was so hard to let go once he’d had that connection, and now losing it, losing Magnus’ voice wasn’t something he was willing to do.
Alec managed to pry his fingers away, and step back, and now there was only the faintest wisps of blue around him as he took another, then another step back.
If it doesn’t work?
Alec stopped and looked at Magnus, at the hulking demon form, wings dipped in silver power from the ley lines, his limp body in his claw.
Know I tried to come back for you, Alexander. To you. I love you. Now go.
“I love you too,” he whispered. Alec covered his mouth as fresh tears started to fall down his face and he hurried away, guttural chanting echoing behind him. He made it to the street, right as Izzy and the others were running towards the warehouse.
“Alec!” Izzy shouted, racing towards him. “Alec, what’s going on?”
Alec turned around when he heard the chanting stop, and then there was wind rushing around them, all of it condensing on the warehouse. “Please,” he whispered, closing his eyes. “Please.”
Izzy reached her brother right as magic, a cascade of colors, exploded out of the warehouse behind them, leveling what remained of it until there was nothing left but rubble and the hulking form of a demon lying in the middle. She relaxed, glad it seemed the demon was gone, but Alec was frozen, staring in horror at the demon. “Alec-”
“Magnus!” Alec shouted, startling Izzy as he dashed towards the prone form of the demon. “No! Angels above, no, not again!” He closed the distance between them in half the time, shoving the rubble back and away from the creature, well-aware other shadowhunters were approaching behind him. Throwing off a boulder, he finally reached the body in the claws of the demon, grabbing at them, pulling them away. “Magnus!”
Alec fell to his knees, clenching his fingers in the shirt Magnus was wearing, bending over him, fighting to keep the tears back. “Don’t you dare. You can do anything, Magnus, anything. Come back to me, please.” He touched Magnus’ bare arm and suddenly a cloud of blue magic, firing sparks, escaped where his fingers were touching Magnus and his body jack-knifed upright, his eyes flying open.
“Magnus?” Alec breathed, carefully shifting behind him, wrapping his arms around him. “Take what you need from me, I’m here, I’m here, I’ve got you.”
Magnus nodded, leaning back against Alec, managing to blink up at the shadowhunter. It felt easier than usual to pull from him, like Alec was pushing the energy at him somehow. He smiled faintly and pressed his face to Alec’s neck. “Alexander.”
When Izzy found him only seconds later, Alec had his arms wrapped protectively around Magnus, holding him close as the warlock slowly, tentatively started to recover from whatever the hell he’d done. Alec pressed his face to Magnus’ hair and breathed in, slow and steady, his heart finally feeling whole again for the first time in weeks.
“Izzy, I’m telling you, something is-” Jace froze, coming around the body of the demon, staring at Alec. Horror crept up his spine at the sight in front of him, Alec cradling Valentine in his arms. “Alec…that’s not Magnus anymore.”
Alec wanted to laugh, had to laugh at his siblings who couldn’t feel it as easily as he could, that they hadn’t seen because they hadn’t wanted to, just like before. “It is, actually,” he said, his voice hoarse.
“Believe me,” Magnus mumbled, opening an eye to look up at Alexander’s parabatai. “Chase, I am very much myself.”
Jace’s eyes went wide and he took a step back. “By the angel.”
Izzy kept her staff pointed at the man in Alec’s arms and frowned. “Explain how this happened.”
“Isabelle,” Magnus drawled, forcing his eyes up to her. “I am happy to explain, in exquisite and extensive detail, dying, becoming a demon, killing enough demons to be strong enough to break onto this plane, and coming to take my body back, tomorrow,” he finished.
Izzy blinked, staring at him. “You…what?”
“I love you,” Alec breathed, continuing to hold Magnus close, ignoring his siblings and the other shadowhunters. “I love you and I’m never letting you go again.”
Magnus gave a faint smile, reaching out to wrap an arm around Alec, holding on tight. “I love you too, Alexander.” He let himself breathe for a few minutes and watched the shadowhunters make short work of the body he’d inhabited for so long. “We have a lot to talk about.”
Alec nodded, trembling, even as he held onto Magnus tightly. “Yeah,” he breathed. “I’m-”
Magnus reached up and pressed a finger to Alec’s lips. “Shh. Later.”
“Okay,” Alec whispered, pressing his face to Magnus’ hair. “Okay.”
Magnus forced his eyes open, looking up at a stunned Isabelle Lightwood and smiled. “Miss Lightwood, if you’d be so kind as to spread the news of Valentine’s demise and my return? I don’t fancy an assassination attempt or seven.”
“They’d have to get through me,” Alec growled, his whole posture instantly fierce and tense.
Magnus gave his shoulder a gentle pat. “I know, my darling. I know.”
Isabelle started to grin, taking in the sight of them both. “You’re really back, aren’t you?”
Magnus nodded tiredly and nuzzled into Alec again. “I am. And I’m not going anywhere.”
For the first time in what felt like weeks, Alec let himself breathe, and relax. Magnus was here, Magnus loved him, and the biggest threat to the shadow world was dead. He grinned and gave Magnus a slow squeeze. “You did it, Magnus.”
“We,” Magnus corrected softly, listening to Isabelle bark orders and give them room. He picked up Alec hand and looked at it. “Giving me your blood had an unintended consequence.”
Alec tensed, looking down at where Magnus was carefully threading their fingers together. “What’s wrong?”
Magnus hummed and lifted Alec’s hand. “Watch,” he said. He picked up Alec’s seraph dagger and gave one of his fingers a small, shallow cut. Blood welled in it, but an instant later, blue sparks were flicking over it and then cut was gone.
Alec blinked, his eyes wide as he stared at his hand. “Uhhh. What was that?”
Magnus smiled. “My unintended consequence. Magic often requires equivalency, Alexander. I took something from you. My magic demanded it be given to you in return.”
“So,” Alec said, looking at his fingertips. “I have some magic?”
Magnus hummed and closed his eyes. “I’d have to study it closer to see how much, but I suspect you can use just as much as I can, but it would take you significantly more effort.”
Alec hummed and pressed his face to Magnus’ hair, a faint smile on his face. “You’ll have to teach me.”
“I can do that,” Magnus said, feeling the small spring of magic inside Alexander dance at the faint touch of his own magic.
“Do you think it gave me anything else?” Alec asked, keeping his voice low so others couldn’t overhear. He knew they’d have to get up and move soon, but he wasn’t willing to, not quite yet.
Magnus tilted his head back and blinked his eyes open, looking up at Alec. “Like what?”
Alec forced himself to shrug, but now the idea was in the back of his mind, he couldn’t stop thinking of it, and he watched blue sparks dance down Magnus’ arms in his excitement.
Magnus smiled bemusedly. “Something has you excited.”
“You’re back,” Alec whispered, kissing Magnus’ temple. “You’re home, and I think this magic did more than give me some of your abilities.”
At once Magnus’ eyes went wide and he jerked back, staring at Alexander in horror as he realized what he was inferring. “Oh no,” he whispered. “Oh, Alexander, I promise-”
“Hey,” Alec said, pressing a finger to Magnus’ lips, then their foreheads together. “If it did, we’ll figure things out. I’m not leaving, and I’m not going anywhere.”
“You might regret it,” Magnus muttered, sighing, guilt choking him. He’d certainly never meant for that to happen.
Alec hummed and shook his head, reaching out to cup Magnus’ jaw and tilt his head so he could kiss him, soft, gentle and intent. “Having lost you once, Magnus? I can say with certainty, I never want to lose you again. Not ever, and I would never want you to go through what I did.”
Magnus felt his breath catch and he stared. “Alexander…”
“So if you want me, and that’s true,” Alec said, grinning at him. “You’re rather stuck with me, Mr. Bane.”
“You know Mr. Lightwood,” Magnus whispered, closing his eyes with a smile. “I quite like the sound of that.”
“I thought you might.”